A vote Thursday by lawmakers in Honduras upheld the nation’s extreme abortion laws.
“Today is a lamentable day for the girls and women of Honduras,” said Grecia Lozano, staff attorney with the Center for Women’s Rights, in a statement, “a country where more than 900 girls become pregnant due to rape each year, where women die in childbirth in preventable ways, where women suffer the torturous experience of bringing an unviable pregnancy to term.”
Abortion is a crime that currently warrants a three to ten year prison sentence in Honduras—for women who have abortions and those who provide them with abortion care. Activists have been lobbying government officials, who are overhauling the nation’s penal code, to decriminalize abortion in limited circumstances, such as when a woman’s life is in danger. Last week’s vote was a setback in their push to broaden access to reproductive health care for women in the region.
“Politicians wasted an opportunity to improve the situation and to bring Honduras out of the middle ages,” Lozano said. “They listened to a radical, fundamentalist argument that criminalizes the most vulnerable people in our society: women who are ill and girls and women who are victims of rape.”
Organizers have vowed to keep fighting for reproductive justice. “We will continue to fight for the decriminalization of the interruption of pregnancy under exceptional circumstances,” Lozano said, “and we thank all of the politicians who supported us in this struggle.”
A number of countries in Latin America are shifting on abortion. México City decriminalized abortion last year—but in Nicaragua, which was one of the few countries permitting abortions in the region for over a century, a law was passed outlawing the procedure. In Brazil,where 30 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, and 1.4 million of them are unsafe, the Social and Family Security Commission is considering a proposal that would provide a right to abortion. In El Salvador, a bill has been introduced in the Assembly to decriminalize abortion in specific cases.
Meliss Arteaga is an editorial intern at Ms. She studied at California State University Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.