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 EqualityNews l Issue 3 l October 2021

Women’s Reproductive Rights and

Abortion Laws

 

Dear Friends, 
 

As we were exploring topics for the October issue of EqualityNews, news of women across Latin America marching for their abortion rights moved us. Just a day before, the republic of San Marino voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalizing abortion, overturning a law dating back to 1865. And just a few weeks before that, Texas introduced a law to ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
 

Over the last year, we’ve witnessed some interesting developments in the politics of women's bodies and reproductive choices in different parts of the world. It is for that reason that we decided to look deeper and closer and decide right away to focus on  ‘Women’s Reproductive Rights and Abortion Laws’ in the October issue. 
 

Unfortunately, being interesting does not necessarily mean being encouraging or positive. While on one hand, countries like Argentina, Mexico, and San Marino have loosened their strict abortion laws and decriminalized abortion, the governments of Poland, Malta, and the state of Texas in the USA took retrogressive steps, undermining women’s right to health and dignity. 
 

Surprisingly, every positive reform in making abortion legal, accessible, and safe - almost everywhere in the world - was earned after prolonged fights.


I guess, what stood out to us was when it comes to women’s choice on their own body, life, and health, how states have historically failed to prioritize women’s rights, and safety over social, cultural, and institutional norms. The conclusion is a well-known fact: women do not matter as much as their male counterparts. Their voices are not heard as much as men's. Their life and safety do not matter enough in the patriarchal society we live in. Why all that? Because significant decisions that have a huge impact on women (their body, their family, their career) are still taken by men. 

Thank you! 

Greta Maggi,
Editor-In-Chief, Equality News


Announcement

It gives me immense pleasure to introduce the new addition of the Editorial Team of EqualityNews - two incredible young women committed to upholding women's rights, who have been the heart and soul of Rights of Equality for a while and have worked tirelessly to bring this issue to you- Greta Maggi, Editor-in-Chief, EqualityNews and Abi Richards, Assistant Editor, EqualityNews!! 
 

Swagata Sen 
Founder, Rights of equality

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Women’s Reproductive Rights and Abortion Laws

Texas Abortion Law: Women’s Rights Are Under Attack, Again

 
With the new Texas law on abortion, Roe v. Wade will experience the most severe challenge in decades. After the death of Justice Ruth Ginsburg, replaced by Trump’s appointee Justice Amy Barrett, the Supreme Court of the U.S. has moved to a conservative majority. It is for this reason that divisive issues such as gun control and abortion are gaining momentum. 
 

Greta Maggi writes about Texas, the same state where the case Roe v. Wade was heard 48-years ago, that one of the strictest abortion restrictions were signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The Texas S.B.8 bill prohibits abortion providers from carrying an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy when most women don’t even know they are pregnant. Moreover, it allows citizens to sue abortion clinics or providers who "aid or abet" illegal abortions.

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Decriminalization of Abortion in Mexico Might have a Ripple Effect Across Latin America and Beyond

 

In December 2020 when Argentina became the first major country in Latin America to legalize abortion, there were tremendous hopes among feminist activists across Latin America. Hopes that Argina will lead the path of reform in the subcontinent. And they were not wrong! In September 2021, ​​Mexico's supreme court ruled that women can no longer be prosecuted for seeking abortions. 

Swagata Sen writes about the path to legalizing abortion in Mexico and how that might positively impact the abortion laws in the rest of Latin America. She also dives deeper into the social and institutional challenges faced by women in Mexico in accessing safe abortion.  

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The United Kingdom’s Decision to Cut Foreign Aid is having Catastrophic Effects on Women’s Reproductive Rights and Sexual Health.

In November 2020, the UK Conservative government made the decision to cut foreign aid as a result of the pandemic. Reaching only 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI), the UK now falls below the recommended target of 0.7% of GNI suggested by the United Nations. This cut has seen Yemen, considered to currently be the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, lose 60% of its international aid from the UK.

Abi Richards disseminates in this article what this cut has meant for women’s reproductive rights. Seeing a fall of £134m, which is usually spent on reproductive health around the world, this article interrogates the importance of reproductive rights, why they must be respected as human rights, and how NGOs providing essential services are being affected.

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The State of Abortion Rights in Poland 

 

Abortion has always been and continues to be a sensitive and delicate topic. In some countries, like Poland, more than in others. 

As Ekaterina Zemskova discussed, seeking an abortion in Poland is only attainable under certain conditions. The stark reality that nearly 100,000 Polish women seek termination of their pregnancy in another country, demonstrates the scale of these restrictions on women’s bodies. In this piece, there is a critical discussion and debate of the current laws held in place in Poland. Proposing important questions as to where moral ethics are involved and raising issues as to why human rights are left vulnerable and dismissed.

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Organizations Working on Policy Reforms About Reproductive Rights and Abortion Laws Around the World

 

African Youth Safe Abortion Alliance (AYSAA) stands up for the protection of women and girl’s rights to safe abortions through policy and legislation reforms 

Bloco A is an organisation in Brazil that takes a harm reduction approach to provide accessible and precise information on alternatives around pregnancy. 

CDD (Católicas Por el Derecho a Decidir Argentina/ Catholics For The Right to Decide) advocates specifically for women in Argentina to have complete autonomy over their sexuality and reproduction and be free from violence and discrimination. 
 

International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma (INROADS) provide funding and tools for many agents and actors to begin de-stigmatising abortion in Latin America. Read more

 

Ipas Bolivia Working both for women’s access to safe abortion and to reduce sexual violence in Bolivia.

Women’s Equality Center complements and strengthens the work of organizations in Latin America around emerging issues and political opportunities linked to reproductive freedom and justice.


Suggestions by EqualityNews Team 💡

READ

PRO reclaiming abortion rights
by Katha Pollitt 

A powerful and whole-heart argument about abortion by pro-choice activist Katha Politt. She explains the hypocrisy of abortion opponents by pointing out the misogynist kernel at the centre of the issue. Katha reframes abortion as a common part of a woman's reproductive life, one that should be accepted as a moral right with positive social implications.

Abortion and Democracy
Contentious Body Politics in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay

by Barbara Sutton, Nayla Luz Vacarezza  

A complex and heartbreaking reality of abortion through the perspective of two editors who assembled together voices and experiences, illuminating the struggles many women in Latin America lived.

WATCH

Saint Frances

A new approach to the urgent subject of reproductive rights with the presence of a child-phobic waitress turned nanny. Every character grows and changes. We see the aspect of lives and often considered taboo topics through the eyes of four people and their four lives, who churn around with all the uncertainties of their future and are keen on trying to understand each other. 

 

Reversing Roe

A 2018 American documentary film presents a clear overview of the social and legal history of abortion, from the point of view of both pro-choice and pro-life advocates. Through interviews, the film analyzes the abortion laws in the United States and the effects of the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

 

FOLLOW

Ofelia Fernandez       


 

Follow Ofelia Fernandez, a determined pro-choice activist and the youngest lawmaker in Latin America!

A glimpse of her inspiring activism: "I don't expect anyone to pretend to be generous by telling us about our future. They have to accept that we are the damned present and it's our turn now." She made a name for herself as a prominent figure in Argentina's "Revolution of the Daughters" movement, in which women donned green scarves and waved green flags to campaign for abortion rights.
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Before wrapping up this issue, we urge everyone to reflect that countries that have taken away woman's rights to choose don’t address the possible causes behind women’s desperation of seeking an abortion, sometimes by unsafe, dangerous and fatal means. Countries that have criminalized abortion could neither make sex education and contraceptive accessible to 100% of women nor stop sexual violence against women and ensure the socio-economic safety of all women.
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THANK YOU
Abi Richards, Ekaterina Zemskova,
 Greta Maggi and Swagata Sen for their contribution to this issue.






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