What just happened?
On December 30th, 2020, abortion became officially legal in the territory of Argentina. This may seem like a measure that came “a little too late”, but one’s interpretation must also include an analysis of the situation surrounding Argentina. If we look at the general situation in Latin America, we can easily understand the audacity of a change in such a context.
The map underneath shows how the most powerful and important countries around Argentina still share the common belief that abortion is murder and should not be enacted without reasons considered valid by the state.
As we can see, the Global South has a very variegated interpretation of abortion, and we can easily notice a link between the economic condition of a country and the belief that abortion is a crime. Indeed, wherever there is widespread poverty, and thus a need for publicly funded abortion, there is also less access to it.
The rising debate on abortion
Moreover, both in Europe and in the US, as in many other countries, the debate on abortion is rising again, even in places where it has been a right taken for granted for decades.
A recent article reports that in in Argentina in 2019, 852 women were brought before a court for abortion. This means that the act of abortion is not stopped by laws prohibiting it; rather, they still occur, but in very unsafe conditions that are likely to undermine the health of the woman.
Even after the reform, “objections of conscience” are still allowed. Therefore, each doctor is free to refuse to perform abortions if they don’t share the belief in it, forcing the woman to find cheaper options that may put her life in danger.
Last, but not least, the position of the Catholic Church played a pivotal role of opposition to the legalization of abortion. The Pope sent a letter of support to the “mujeres de las villas”, which is a group of women that protested the legalization of pregnancy termination.
This means that, to this day, the Church (and many other religious institutions) has not yet recognized the dangers of illegal abortion. In fact, in most countries were abortion is illegal, there is an extremely higher likelihood of death for women seeking abortion in unsafe contexts.
A future-oriented view
Therefore, there is still much to do, especially given the new rise of the debate on abortion in the Global North in the recent years. We must stand united to keep this precious right viable.
Being pro-choice doesn’t mean classifying abortion as a form of birth control, but understanding that freedom of choice is the only way to avoid surgery in unsafe places, where the life of the woman is endangered.