What Do Latin Americans Think About Abortion?

The Latin American Perspective 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The debate on abortion has only recently come to Latin America. Only six of the 34 Latin American countries allow abortion without limitations in the first weeks of gestation, and many still consider it a crime. In countries where abortion is legal, such as Mexico, Uruguay, Cuba, and Argentina, laws legalizing abortion have been promoted by the governments and sometimes conflict with the majority opinion of the population.

On the other hand, in nations like Guatemala, the Bill for the Protection of Life and the Family seeks to increase the penalties for those who practice abortion and establishes that human life begins at fertilization. As well, in 2007, there was a modification in the Nicaraguan Penal Code eliminating the norm that allowed the termination of pregnancy when the mother’s life was in danger and imposing imprisonment for all intentional abortions. 

Although polls cannot always be trusted, it is undeniable that all the polls agree that the majority of Latin Americans do not support abortion-on-demand. Of those who support the availability of abortion at all, most only believe that it should be allowed in special circumstances, as in the case of rape or when the life of the unborn or the mother is in danger.

It is also true that the situation is not the same in all countries, but in almost all of them, international pressure has led to the emergence of two clear camps: the pro-choice movement, identified with the color green and the slogan “legal, safe and free abortion”; and, on the other hand, the light blue pro-life movement with the slogan “save both lives.” 

Green and blue woman protesting in Latin America

The Pro-Choice Movement: Four Distinct Groups 

In the green group, we generally find four types of people. The first is women who identify themselves on social media with green hearts or fists up in the sense of “revolution” and, in the streets, with a green bandana hanging from their backpacks. They have declared September 28 as “Day for the Right to Abortion for Women in Latin America and the Caribbean” (which later became the “Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion”). They often organize marches to demand their requests, but many tend to become violent and end up violating public roads, churches, and monuments

In the second group, artists and writers serve as cultural influencers convincing people that abortion is the socially right thing to do. While older generations generally hold onto traditional values, these influencers are causing the youth to view those values as retrograde.

The third group is composed of leftist governments which, under the pressure from international organizations, use universities and schools to establish sex education in a manner which denies responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of having sex.

The fourth group is comprised of media organizations that are complicit in advancing a pro-choice agenda through rhetoric rather than reason. For example, these organizations constantly use euphemisms such as “interruption of pregnancy” and “product of conception.” Likewise, it has been demonstrated that they spread lies to generate empathy for the pro-choice position. For example, some time ago, the case of “Julia” was in the news. Apparently, she was a 16-year-old who had an illegal abortion and was found dead in her bathroom. However, after the facts were denied by the Argentine authorities, congresswoman Alejandra Ródenas admitted that she had invented this case to use it as a metaphor.

The Growth of the Pro-Life Movement

On the other side, we find the pro-life movement that, in this part of the word, began to consolidate in Argentina as a response to the attempts to legalize abortion in 2018. Its structure is mainly disjointed and its action at the political and social level is scarce, but its influence is slowly becoming more noticeable. Although many young people are joining this side lately, there isn’t yet a critical mass to engage in consistent lobbying in all countries.

Every pro-life march tends to have the same characteristics: they massively outnumber pro-choice marches, they are not covered by most of the media, and they are attributed only to religious groups and individuals. Some of the Latin American “Marches for Life” that gathered the most people were the ones on May 20, 2018, in Argentina, in which approximately 3.6 million people marched through 200 cities; May 5, 2018, in Peru, in which 800,000 people took to the streets of Lima; and May 4, 2019, with more than 500,000 people in 61 cities in Colombia.

Blue woman marching in Columbia

The pro-choice advocates are making more progress right now, because they have the means to impose their position through influential institutions, including schools, governments, and media. Even though pro-choice advocates are in the minority, “whoever makes the most noise wins,” and they have effective means of making more noise, allowing them to gain more and more followers.

However, although they are growing, the pro-choice side does not want a decision on abortion legislation to be made by the majority. For example, in Argentina, a plebiscite (a direct vote to accept or refuse a proposal) on the subject was requested, but the green side opposed it since abortion legalization would probably have failed in a popular vote. Instead, pro-choice advocates pressure congressmen to make these decisions, allowing them to bypass millions of people who recognize the value of the unborn child.

Consequently, the pro-life movement in Latin America faces a major challenge: they must become organized and make themselves heard now, while abortion remains largely illegal. Even if pro-life people are currently in the majority, they will lose if they remain largely silent and disorganized in the face of escalating pro-choice pressure.

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The post What Do Latin Americans Think About Abortion? originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”

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Cristina Cevallos is a Law student at the University of Piura in Peru. She is passionate about issues related to cultural heritage and the defense of traditional values, especially marriage, family, and religious freedom. She is part of different volunteer and entrepreneurship programs internationally, most of them focused on the defense of life.

Cristina also runs a page on art history (@art.andstory https://instagram.com/art.andstory) and another on Christian content (@utfaciam https://instagram.com/utfaciam).

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