Green Wave: Women’s struggles for Legal Abortion in Latin American

Abortion is still a highly contested issue, whether for patriarchal, religious or social reasons. Latin American women are still fighting for their rights. The message is clear: Women will have the decision about their bodies. The aim of the movement is to put on the agenda the situation of women in relation to their reproductive health, which needs reform. Also, the importance of having sexual education in schools.

Under the motto of legal, safe and free abortion; Latin American women protest in favor of abortion, pointing to as a precedent the history of many women who have aborted in secrecy and precariousness (most of them died). Likewise, abortion is criminalized in many countries of the continent, leaving women in a state of vulnerability.

Status of the legalization of abortion in Latin America

Actually, only in 5 countries is the interruption of pregnancy legalized (within the established deadlines) :

  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Cuba
  • Puerto Rico
  • In the case of Mexico, it is only legalized in the cities of Mexico City and Oaxaca

In the rest of the Latin American countries, abortion is only allowed in specific cases: when the life of the mother or the baby is in danger, or in cases of sexual abuse;  with the exception of countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where abortion is criminalized in its entirety.

The Green Wave Movement

Under a perspective of intersectional and anti-capitalist feminism, the movement of the Green Wave arises. This movement originates in Argentina, where under the use of green scarves and with the participation of women of all ages and all social strata, legal, safe and free abortion is collectively demanded in the nation.

The “Argentinian Green Wave” influenced women’s collectives in other Latin American countries, where women’s collectives hold performances and songs where not only the legalization of abortion is demanded, but also slogans such as “the patriarchy is going to fall” are exposed. Thus generating a new social movement and debating in various spaces on the subject, but above all, generating an awakening in many women, who for the first time join a collective struggle in defense of their rights and the rights of thousands of women.

The discourses of the Green Wave not only influence thousands of women on the continent, but also generate new practices in the community, through which a community of struggle can be observed in an area where women survive on a daily basis and whose rights are not protected for centuries. The speech of “que sea ley” and “el patriarcado se va a caer” has come to stay until the fight is victory.

Movement Challenges

In Latin America, there is a strong presence not only of the Catholic Church, but also of Christian and Evangelical churches. These churches still have social influence and are against the legalization of abortion. Although there are secular states in Latin America, there are also conservative societies. Essentially, this creates pressure in society for policies that limit women’s rights.

Latin American women not only face this problem, but also problems with patriarchal structures. In a continent where there is wide inequality and those who are affected are women from low social strata, as well as women who are victims of a patriarchy that tries to dominate them the main challenge is to put women’s reproductive rights on the agenda, and in an attempt to make visible the need for public policies that address the issue, the community unites women from all nations, with the hope that tomorrow abortion will be legal for all.

Ana Claudia Baltazar Diaz


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