Activist countries

Why a growing number of Latin American countries are legalizing abortion

Ali Rogin:

In the past three years alone, abortion rights activists in Latin America have celebrated major victories. Their movement is called the Marea Verde, the green wave of green scarves first worn by activists in Argentina. In 2020, this country legalized abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. It was previously treated as a crime except in cases of rape, and to protect the life of the mother.

In Mexico, some demonstrations for the right to abortion have turned violent. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws criminalizing abortions were unconstitutional. Today, seven of Mexico’s 32 states allow them. In February this year the Colombian Constitutional Court legalized abortion up to 24 weeks, there had been a total ban until 2006 when some exceptions were added. But other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean still have some of the toughest abortion laws. The procedure is still completely illegal without exception in six countries.

To learn more, I am accompanied by Alicia Yamin, Senior Fellow for Global Health and Rights at Harvard Law School. Alicia, thank you so much for joining me. Of course, Latin America is not a monolith. But what are some of the broader trends that you have identified that have come to you in recent years?