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In Latin America, abortion access is expanding. Why is the U.S. moving in the opposite direction?

Aerial view of pro-choice activists displaying a banner that reads in Spanihs 'Legal Abortion' outside the National Congress as Deputies vote on a bill to legalize abortion on December 10, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images)
Aerial view of pro-choice activists displaying a banner that reads in Spanihs 'Legal Abortion' outside the National Congress as Deputies vote on a bill to legalize abortion on December 10, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Tomas Cuesta/Getty Images)

For abortion rights advocates in the U.S., Latin America has long been a cautionary example:

“The people dying from the abortion ban in El Salvador? They’re women whose doctors are afraid to operate on an ectopic pregnancy,” law professor Michelle Oberman says.

“They’re women whose doctors are afraid to treat their breast cancer with chemotherapy. The single biggest cause of maternal death? It’s suicide by a pregnant teenager.”

But now, it’s the United States that’s restricting abortion access.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, attitudes about legalizing access to abortion have been expanding.

“You can see the change of attitudes towards this public opinion,” Cora Fernandez Anderson, a political scientist, says. “It just only took two more years and then abortion is legalized.”

Today, On Point: The U.S. moving in one direction, much of the world in another. We talk about why.

Guests

Michelle Oberman, law professor at Santa Clara University. Author of Her Body, Our Laws. 

Cora Fernandez Anderson, assistant professor of comparative politics at Mount Holyoke College. Contributor to Ms. Magazine, where she covers the reproductive rights debate in Latin America. (@CoraFernandezA1)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

Also Featured

Catalina Martínez Coral, regional director for Latin America & the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights. (@catamartinezc)

Related Reading

Journal of Law and the Biosciences: “What Will and Won’t Happen When Abortion is Banned” – “For the past 50 years, abortion opponents have fought for the power to ban abortion without little attention to how things might change when they won.”

Ms. Magazine: “Chile Becomes First Country in the Americas To Protect Abortion Rights in Its Constitution” — “With the recent inclusion of abortion rights in the Chilean Constitution, a first of its kind in the hemisphere, the growth of Latin American feminisms is seemingly unstoppable.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.