Colombia is the fifth country in Latin America and the Caribbean where abortion is legal.
The decision to remove abortion from Colombia’s penal code is another result of the power of the Marea Verde movement.
Over the past ten years, the movement has made historic changes in the region that have one of the most restrictive abortion laws.
What happened in Colombia?
In 2006, abortion was legalized in Colombia, but only in cases of rape or domestic violence, severe genetic diseases and fetal abnormalities, or life-threatening conditions.
Last year, Causa Justa, a group of 50 associations and organizations opposed to the ban on abortion, filed a formal complaint against legal restrictions.
One of the main reasons was that even women who have the legal right to abortion in Colombia face obstacles to doing so.
In a survey of 428 Colombian women entitled to abortion, the NGO Doctors Without Borders found that 88% of them had difficulty performing an abortion.
The Justices group also found that the annual number of women convicted of abortions has risen sharply since 2006.
The NGO says that criminalizing abortion promotes and promotes illegal abortion. Médecins Sans Frontières estimates that only 10% of abortions in Colombia are performed in “healthy conditions.”
“This historic legal action removes barriers and prejudices and misconceptions that prevent women and girls from accessing essential reproductive health care,” said Catalina Martinez Coral, director of the South American and Caribbean Division of the NGO Reproductive Rights Center. “It’s coming.”
“Decriminalization and legalization of abortion is an essential step forward for women’s rights and a fundamental step towards a safe and healthy abortion in Colombia,” she said.
What has this got to do with the Green Wave protests?
Given what happened in Argentina, the choice of green for the Justices campaign was not a coincidence.
In the early 2000s, women’s rights activists in the country began working to legalize abortion.
They were inspired by the long-standing model of the Plaza de Mayo Mothers’ Human Rights Organization or the Mayo Square Mothers.
A philanthropic group known for its white headscarves in official demonstrations to protest the killing of political activists and the abduction of their children during Argentina’s military rule (1976-1983). They were known as the mothers of Mayo Square. Activists legalizing abortion were also inspired by the idea of scarves, but changed their color. In 2018, Miranda Gonzalez Martin, an anthropologist and social activist, told the Argentine newspaper LaNation: “It was the only color we could choose from in the range of colors; other colors in historical backgrounds belonged to different political factions.”
“Purple is a symbol of feminism and orange is the color used by the Catholic Church. These small triangular scarves have a special meaning for Argentine women and are a symbol that stands out,” she said.
What have been the achievements of this movement so far?
The Green Wave movement began nearly four decades after Cuba became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to legalize abortion for all women.
The movement’s first major success came in 2012, when Uruguay legalized abortion for all women and allowed women to end pregnancies up to 12 weeks.
By 2007, several Mexican states had passed similar laws.
In December 2020, it was Argentina’s turn for parliament to legalize abortion for all women until the fourteenth week of pregnancy.
In Chile, where the abortion ban was lifted in 2017, lawmakers proposed a bill that would legalize end-pregnancies by 14 weeks, although it has a long way to go before it can be passed.
The Reproductive Rights Center still estimates that 97% of South American women of childbearing age live in countries with abortion restrictions. The list also includes Brazil, the most populous country in South America.
The Argentine Senate voted in a ‘historic decision’ to legalize abortion
The Argentine Congress declared abortion legal until the fourteenth week of pregnancy, which is an important and historic decision for a region with the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
After lengthy negotiations, the Argentine senators finally voted in favor of the important bill with 38 votes in favor, 29 against and one abstention.
In Argentina, curettage has so far been allowed only in cases of pregnancy as a result of rape or in case of a health risk to the pregnant woman.
The bill was approved by the Argentine House of Representatives about a month ago.
The Catholic Church, still influential in Latin America, opposed the move and called on senators to reject the bill.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Green wave against the church
Katie Watson; Latin American Reporter
While the powerful Argentine Catholic Church and the growing community of evangelicals in the country were strongly opposed to the bill, Argentina’s powerful “Green Wave” women’s movement was at the forefront of this change.
The Green Wave is a popular feminist movement that has grown in influence over the past few years and eventually repealed a law that had been in place since 1921.
The whole region was closely following the developments in Argentina. Given that Argentina has legalized abortion up to 14 weeks, pro-abortion activists in neighboring countries such as Chile and Brazil will certainly use this development to help advance their goals and revise their laws in some parts of the world. Known for their limited abortion, they can gain more freedom of action on reproductive issues.
Abortion rights activists have been fighting for years to change the law. The law was passed two years after senators abstained from voting to legalize abortion.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who supported the bill, made it one of his campaign promises to submit it to parliament. “Although I am a Catholic, the law must be made for everyone,” he said.
Mr Fernandez also said that free and legal abortion services up to the 14th week of pregnancy were an aspect of the right to public health because “every year about 38,000 women are hospitalized for (secret) abortions and since the re-establishment of democracy (in “In 1983, more than 3,000 of them died.”
“Today we have a better society that promotes women’s rights and ensures public health,” she wrote on Twitter after the election.
During the sensitive Senate campaign, a large number of pro-abortion activists gathered outside Congress in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
They followed the talks on the big screens, and when the voting finally took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a celebration was held in the abortion election camp.
The vote was expected to be very close, but in the end, the four senators who said they had not yet made a decision voted in favor of the bill after 12 hours of debate.
Senator Silvina Garcia Laraborough, who voted against the bill in 2018, backed it this time. He explained during the talks why he had suddenly changed his mind.
“My vote is in favor of free women, women who can make decisions according to the advice of their conscience,” said Ms Garcia Laraborough, who was in tears.
Anti-abortion activists who broke away from pro-activist activists and followed the negotiations from there were disappointed with the outcome of the vote.
“Abortion is a disaster. It suddenly puts an end to another growing life,” said Inis Blass, a senator who voted against.
But Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, the women minister in Argentina’s cabinet, said “we are making history” and that many pro-abortion activists hoped the change would be a strategy for other lawmakers across Latin America.
Abortion is strictly prohibited in El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and only in a few Latin American countries under certain conditions.
In the whole region, only Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana and parts of Mexico currently allow women to have abortions, although there are various restrictions on the number of weeks of pregnancy allowed for legal abortion.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of the American Continent at Human Rights Watch, said he thought the new law “could have a domino effect in the region.”