Abortion Debate Heats up in Latin America

The Lancet |

The debate over abortion is resurgent in largely Roman Catholic Latin America. Some of the most religious jurisdictions in the region are loosening restrictions on the procedure while other countries, such as Nicaragua, are firmly clamping down. Jill Replogle reviews the situation.

Both pro-choice and anti-abortion activists have been busy in Latin America during the past few years amid big legal changes in several countries. After Colombia loosened its previously strict anti-abortion legislation in May, 2006, Nicaragua passed one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the region, in November of the same year. Then, Mexico City swung in the other direction by legalising abortion in April this year.

The abortion debate in Latin America has become increasingly polarised as the issue is more openly discussed. In this largely Catholic region, some of the most religious countries have liberalised legislation on abortion. In others, anti-abortion laws have become more restrictive; for example the introduction of criminal sentences for women who have abortions and doctorss who do them, even when the mother's life is in danger. More

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