Emerging trends in abortion rights campaigns around the world

The article below, by Abortion Rights Chair Kerry Abel, is from Abortion Rights’ Autumn 2021 International Round-Up. It was originally published here.

The heart-breaking news of the death of Izabela in Poland, who died of sepsis because she was refused an abortion, is a complete tragedy, but also an inevitable consequence of any restrictions to abortion care. We’re in awe of the Abortion Dream Team in Poland and everyone who took to the streets on Saturday.

So we note with interest the row taking place in the European Union with Poland as the Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatović who, hot off the heels from calling for Malta to stop criminalising abortion, has now called for Poland to reverse its decision on abortion.

This is in a context of attempts in Eastern Europe to roll back abortion gains, including an attempt in Slovakia too.

However, in Latin America, the legalisation of abortion, passed in the Argentinian parliament at the end of last year, has unleashed a wave of activity which is playing out differently in the region.

There is a growing social base in Mexico calling for reform and making breakthroughs in various state legislatures. If you want a deeper dive into the nuances of abortion reform in Latin America, I recommend this online Harvard discussion which took place a couple of weeks ago.

However, we also know that El Salvador’s Congress voted again to uphold a total ban on abortion and this exposé by El Pais across five Latin American countries tracks the ultraconservative US organization Heartbeat International’s use of misleading advertising, shelters and false promises of adoption to prevent vulnerable women from having an abortion in Latin America.

The news on the battle over abortion that started in Texas with an almost complete abortion ban and is now bouncing around the court system is fast moving, but courts are now hearing directly from abortion rights’ groups challenging Texas’ restrictive abortion law in what seems to be the first court hearing to specifically tackle the statute’s constitutionality.

The US anti-choice Right may be feeling confident, but economists have warned of the long-term impact of restricting abortion on employees and the bottom line, even more firms are likely to take a stand. More than 80 companies with a combined revenue of more than $20 billion signed a statement in September denouncing Texas’s abortion law, which bans the procedure from about six weeks of pregnancy, including in rape and incest cases.

It’s true, we don’t talk about Africa enough in our international round ups, so we’ll attempt to correct this by highlighting Benin, whose parliament voted to legalise abortion last month. It is still the case that the legacy of colonialism affects abortion law in Africa, but Benin is showing the way forward.

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