After notable progress on protecting equal rights one might be excused for thinking that Latin America is an accepting and safe place to live for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. That would be the wrong conclusion.
Chile is estimated to have one of the highest abortion rates in all of Latin America, but it has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world. Abortions are banned under all circumstances, including saving the woman’s life. Naturally, this has forced women to seek abortions outside of the law, with varying levels of safety. That’s why the Chilean safe abortion hotline was launched in 2009.
Infografia: Dia Mundial de Prevencion del Embarazo No Planificado en Adolescentes 2012
The legality of abortion in Latin America varies from country to country. The one constant almost everywhere is the inaccessibilty of a safe, legal procedure.
Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services is necessary to advance the Millennium Development Goals. At this critical moment, however, funding priorities for family planning are being shifted away from Latin America and the Caribbean, which may undermine the substantial gains that have been made in the region and overlook the tremendous need that still remains.
The freedom to express our sexuality is an integral part of our happiness and well-being. However, people whose sexual orientation or gender identity does not conform to majority norms often face stigma and discrimination by the state and by society.
Adolescent fertility rates in Latin America and the Caribbean surpass the world average, and more than 1 in 3 women in the region give birth before the age of 20. In rural areas, the adolescent birth rate is even higher. Peer education is one strategy for reaching large numbers of youth in rural areas.
January 22nd marked the 39th anniversary of one of the most significant legal decisions of the 20th century, Roe v. Wade. This landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion and changed the course of history for women in this country. Yet women in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle for this basic reproductive right.
For all of President Barack Obama’s pledges that he stands for universal human rights, the fundamental rights of women are likely to be left off the table when he visits leaders in Latin America this week.
A United Nations Economic and Social Council meeting concluded last week with unequivocal support for comprehensive sex education throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to help stem the HIV epidemic and promote overall health.