• Fri. Apr 16th, 2021

How lawmakers made it nearly impossible to legalize abortion in Honduras

Honduras was already considered one of few nations worldwide with a whole ban on abortion, which means the operation cannot be carried out even in circumstances of rape or incest, when the fetus is gravely deformed, and if the being pregnant endangers the mom’s life. The use, sale, distribution and buy of emergency contraception can be prohibited.

The new reform, often known as “Shield Against Abortion in Honduras” and promoted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s ruling National Party, additionally now creates a authorized “shield” towards future adjustments to the ban.

The adjustments elevate the Congressional voting threshold to change abortion regulation from two-thirds majority to three-quarters. Since Honduras’s unicameral Congress has 128 deputies, the brand new guidelines would require no less than 96 to vote for future adjustments to those articles — an unlikely state of affairs for the time being, since 86 voted for the amendments.

The reform additionally blocks any future makes an attempt to repeal or modify the change. “Legal provisions created after the effective date of this Article that establish otherwise, will be null and void,” states the ruling from the Congressional fee appointed to the matter.

“As a woman and a mother, I am in favor of life and against abortion, I want to speak on behalf of those who are in the mother’s womb and cannot be opposed,” stated Gloria Bonilla, a Deputy for the Liberal Party who voted for the change.

Women’s rights advocates have fiercely condemned the change. Merly Eguigure, an activist with the Honduran rights group Movimiento de Mujeres por La Paz “Visitación Padilla” informed CNN it will solely reinforce harmful circumstances for Honduran ladies.

“The shield law will continue to condemn poor women to practice abortion in unsafe conditions, which could lead to death on the one hand or to prison on the other,” Eguigure stated.

According to September 2020 report by the World Health Organization, unsafe abortions account for between 4.7% and 13.2% of maternal deaths globally, every year. The report additionally notes that “restrictive laws are not effective in reducing the rate of abortion.”

An epidemic of sexual violence

While it’s laborious to know what number of ladies and underaged ladies have clandestine abortions in Honduras, the Honduran NGO Women’s Rights Center estimates that between 50,000 and 80,000 such abortions happen within the nation every year.
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The nation has one of many highest charges of sexual violence on the earth — usually a big think about undesirable pregnancies. Nearly one in three Honduran ladies over the age of 15 has skilled bodily and/or sexual violence from an intimate accomplice, information from the United Nations’ 2020 Human Development Reports reveals.

In 2018, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) carried out a well being marketing campaign aimed toward offering medical and psychological well being care to survivors of sexual violence in Mexico and Honduras. In the Honduran capital metropolis of Tegucigalpa, 90% of all being pregnant circumstances attended by the MSF mission had been on account of sexual assault.

Nineteen % of these circumstances had been teenage moms beneath 18 years previous. “We know that a teenage pregnancy has a major risk of complications, putting both mother and baby at risk,” stated Tania Marin, MSF Regional Medical Coordinator for Mexico and Honduras.
The adolescent beginning price in Honduras is increased than the area’s common and greater than twice the worldwide common, based on the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The minimal age for authorized sexual consent in Honduras is 14. But in 2017 alone, 820 ladies aged between 10 to 14 gave beginning in Honduras, based on information from the well being secretary cited by HRW.

Political pressures in a serious election yr

Nevertheless, for over 30 years the Honduran authorities has clung to a system that penalizes ladies with as much as six years of jail for acquiring an abortion, even in circumstances of rape or incest.

In February 1997, Honduras’s penal code was modified to set up a penalty from three to 6 years in jail for girls who get hold of an abortion and for the medical workers who’re concerned within the course of. In April 2009, the nation’s Congress handed a invoice banning emergency contraception — a transfer upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Pressure from Honduran non secular teams is extensively seen because the dominant political drive in sustaining such strict legal guidelines on abortion.

“It’s impossible to understand how abortion is viewed in Honduras without considering the outsized role religion plays,” write researchers Amy Braunschweiger and Margaret Wurth in a June 2019 report for Human Rights Watch. “Conservative Christian churches, both Catholic and evangelical Protestant, are extremely influential and the vast majority of Hondurans belong to one or the other.”
And specialists from a United Nations working group that visited Honduras in November 2018 reported that “both Catholic and evangelical churches have significant influence over political decision-making bodies and public opinion, including in the discussion of the decriminalization of abortion in three circumstances and lifting the prohibition on emergency contraception.”

Eguigure, the ladies’s rights activist, put it extra bluntly. “The country is coopted by religious fanatics.”

2021 is a serious election yr in Honduras, with each the presidency and all 128 seats of Congress up for grabs. Though abortion shouldn’t be a traditionally decisive voting concern for Hondurans, the subject could have been notably delicate amid the latest wave of pro-choice rulings within the area.

“Abortion is murder, it is taking the life of those who want to be born,” Pastor Oswaldo Canales, President of the Evangelical Confraternity of Honduras informed members of Congress throughout a January 19 dialogue session on abortion with different non secular leaders, together with a priest from the Catholic Church.
Honduras is considered one of six nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, together with the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Suriname to ban abortion altogether, based on information from the Guttmacher Institute.

But Neesa Medina, a member of feminist collective Somos Muchas, informed CNN she believes its excessive anti-abortion stance can not endure ceaselessly. The defend regulation reveals an actual worry of Latin America’s rising pro-choice motion, she believes.

“They don’t realize that it’s impossible to stop the future,” stated Medina.

Reporting contributed by CNN en Español’s Elvin Sandoval and CNN’s Jack Guy.

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