If you work in reproductive health or public health you often hear people talking about the “unmet need for contraception” in a certain country or region. But here’s an unmet need that never gets discussed outside of small circles: second-trimester abortion.
Violent attacks, threats, and intimidation have escalated against women’s rights defenders in Colombia on the eve of a historic decision decriminalizing abortion. The following is the first report just received from our colleagues.
A survey of youth in Bogota found most are making autonomous, independent decisions about their sexual lives.
Andrea Lynch honors Marta Solay, who shared her compelling story with Colombia's Supreme Court in order to help legalize abortion in cases where a woman's health or life is in danger.
In May 2006, Colombia's Constitutional Court handed down a historic decision, voting 5-3 to decriminalize abortion in cases where a pregnant woman's life or health was in danger, in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, and in cases of severe fetal malformation. The decision, which came in response to a case brought by Colombian lawyer Monica Roa, was a watershed for Colombia—one of the few countries in the world where abortion had been illegal under any circumstances up until then, despite the fact that between 350,000 and 400,000 Colombian women still sought clandestine abortions every year.
First, it grounded the decision in the norms established by a number of international and regional human rights instruments to which Colombia (among others) is accountable. And second, it placed women's human rights, with a particular emphasis on their sexual and reproductive rights, at the center of its justification for decriminalizing abortion. Which makes it, like, 80 times more progressive than Roe v. Wade, by the way. Women's Link Worldwide, the organization that supported Roa's case, has recently translated the most groundbreaking excerpts of the Court's 600-page decision into English, and posted the document on their website together with an excellent foreword by Rebecca J. Cook, a feminist and human rights scholar at the University of Toronto. Highlights follow.
This week, I break from regularly scheduled blogging to bring you some first-hand coverage from Massachusetts.
This weekend I left the bustle of Chicago to retreat into the lovely lair of western Mass. for the From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building a Movement for Reproductive Freedom, a conference hosted by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program. I've just retuned from the conference having been challenged, energized, inspired and exhausted in the best ways possible.
Over 1000 activists came together to forge a path towards reproductive freedom by learning, strategizing and networking for reproductive rights and social justice. There were more than 60 speakers from organizations and communities all over the U.S. and around the world. The speakers addressed a broad range of social justice issues by relating them to reproductive rights and health. They spoke about issues of economic justice, immigrants rights, health care, racial justice, anti-war activism, youth liberation, LGBTQ rights, civil liberties and freedom from violence.