The Long Fight for Women’s Rights and Legal Abortions: Illegal Abortions in South America

Within Latin America many countries have strict laws prohibiting women from getting abortions. Out of all the countries only five including Argentina, Cuba, Guyana, Uruguay, and some states in Mexico have made abortions legal, but all of the rest remain against this ‘sacrilegious’ act. Within some of these countries the government and religious groups have made getting abortions very limited. If you were among women who wanted one or stood in the streets campaigning for women rights, it would oftentimes put you in harm’s way or even subjected to judgement from other people with opposing views. In many of these countries who still restrict abortions it puts many women in positions for getting unsanitary abortions performed by non-medical personnel which can effect there health and well-being later on in their life.  

These same countries religious values and statements from the governments have also made people believe that women seeking abortions or woman that have had them are of the “lowest of the low”. This is what it is like in El Salvador. 

Christina Quintanilla being interviewed By NPR

In El Salvador the government passed a law that went out to all of the hospitals saying that if a woman came in suspected of causing a termination of pregnancy the doctors must contact the police immediately. These woman who are suspected of this or have caused abortions can face up to 50 years in federal prison. This was the unfortunate truth for a 17 year old girl, Christina, who got tangled within El Salvador’s abortion law. However, for her it was all a huge misunderstanding.

Christina was seven months pregnant with her second child and was living in her mothers apartment. One night she woke up with sharp pains in her stomach with a pool of blood surrounding her. She was miscarrying her child. She stumbled to the bathroom floor but ended up passing out from the pain the amount of pain she was in and by the time she had woken up she was in an unfamiliar hospital with doctors passing by her bed and police officers telling her she would be brought to jail once she was discharged for the murder of her child. She was stunned and had done nothing wrong but due to El Salvador’s abortion laws was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

Pro-choice activists in Argentina celebrate the legalization of abortions up to 14-weeks 

Now, I know at the moment Latin America’s abortion laws sound dismal and in many ways un-empowering for women seeing that it has forced many women to fear medical care and voicing their opinions, but that is not the case. In December of 2020 Argentina finally legalized abortion which left their country filled with pro-choice campaigners celebrating all throughout 

the streets. This was a long time coming for argentina seeing that their “feminist movement has been demanding legal abortion for more than 30 years”. Pro-choice Civilians flooded the streets in their green attire to celebrate this immense achievemnet for their country. Women feel that now with “women’s human rights they can fulfil [their] life projects, fulfil [their] wishes and be happy.” This just shows that there is still hope for the other countries to follow in Argentina’s footsteps. 

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