Abortion on the Rise In Latin America
Pro-abortion activist are using high-profile cases and secular media to push for legalized abortion in Latin America.
BY ALEJANDRO BERMÚDEZ
Latin America Correspondent
October 1-7, 2006 Issue | Posted 9/27/06 at 10:00 AM
But it was Aug. 25, a foggy Friday
in Bogotá, that confirmed a disturbing trend in
A group of doctors performed the
abortion on an 11-year-old girl raped by her stepfather, while thousands of pro-life
demonstrators protested outside the
But Monica Roa, the Colombian-born, New York-resident attorney who headed the legal and media battle that ended with the legalization of abortion by Colombia’s Constitutional Court last May, was not in Bogotá to listen to either side.
She was in
The pro-abortion cause in
The case made its way to the provincial Supreme Court after both a lower court and an appeal court ruled against the abortion.
Doctors at a public hospital refused to comply with the order, objecting that the baby was too far developed for the procedure to take place. But the abortion was finally performed at a private clinic.
Roa, a lawyer who works for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, believes that almost all moves to change legislation in Latin America through stealthy “baby steps” have failed, mostly because of a cultural opposition to abortion and the powerful influence of the Catholic Church.
So she and her colleagues at the center have opted for another strategy: Go high-profile, rely on the support of the secular media with emotional stories like rape cases, and then legalize abortion “the American way” — by the means of the Supreme Court.
A rape victim, Paulina
Ramirez, was used by the organization and its local partners to force the
Mexican state of
“The coincidence in the strategy is not by chance,” said Antonio Donato, a Brazilian pro-life leader who has been following the legal strategy used by pro-abortion advocates in Latin America and in his home country, where a recent move to legalize abortion by a congressional bill was defeated.
“They know they can’t count on the culture, they can’t count on the votes in Congress, and they can’t count on the people,” Donato said about abortion activists. “But they count on most of the secular media and know that our legal system is feeble and prone to being impressed with international agreements.”
Donato cited an essay written by Roa and two other members of the Center for Reproductive
Rights, Lilian Sepulveda-Oliva
and Luisa Cabal, entitled “What Role Does International Law Play in the
Promotion and Advancing of Reproductive Rights in
In their essay, they openly propose using litigation based on international law to “develop new standards for the protection of reproductive rights” and to force local authorities to ignore national laws and allow abortion and “reproductive health” services for teenagers.
The essay acknowledges that their agenda is “still without a solid legal framework that reflects an obligation to exercise reproductive rights.” To get around this, the feminist lawyers advocate “proactive action” and “media exposure.”
Carlos Polo, director for
“The new priority of the pro-abortion organizations is not to prioritize congressional representatives or penal codes,” Polo said. “It is the reinterpretation of international pacts and treaties … to change the law by the means of either the executive branch of power or the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.”
“They know that in
Speaking to The New York Times following the court decision in May that led to Colombia’s first abortion, Buenos Aires-based Mabel Bianco, president of the Foundation for Studies and Research on Women, said that the decision could trigger lawsuits in other countries demanding that abortion be legalized to conform with international treaties that address women’s health care.
“I think this decision will prompt
In March 2005, Roa
addressed a conference at
“Everything she said at that
conference, including the invitation of Frances Kissling,
from ‘Catholics for a Free Choice,’ to try to undermine Catholicism in
Nieto recently wrote in the Colombian daily El Tiempo that “those who seek the legalization [of abortion] have been exposed as the well-oiled machine they are.”
Wrote Nieto, “The fact that The New York Times was clearly explaining Roa’s strategy before anybody knew of it in Colombia reveals that there is an organized strategy to liberalize abortion in the region on the basis of ‘exceptions’ such as rape or fetal deformation.”
The Population Research
Institute’s Polo admits that after
“The media is not on our side and time is not on our side either; but the people and the culture is still on our side, and we have to take advantage of that,” Polo adds.
In fact, the massive anti-abortion
Warned Polo, “With the massive media campaign, these figures will not hold for ever, so this is the time to come up with legislation to ‘shield’ the life of the unborn in the region.”
is based in
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