International Pressure for Abortion

Editor’s note. This is reprinted from the May newsletter of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.

Pro-abortion organization expands into Latin America and Africa

The radical pro-abortion organization, Center for Reproductive Rights, is expanding its legal work in key regions of Latin America and Africa. The Center has established new offices in Bogota, Colombia and Nairobi, Kenya. Pro-abortion activists have experienced success in both countries via different tactics with strategic assistance from the Center for Reproductive Rights. In Latin American, the organization seeks to exert influence on its priority countries of Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru with the establishment of the new office in Colombia. The Center states that the mission of the office will include ” targeting abortion bans and legal barriers to access abortion services” by engaging with policymakers and other activist organizations to “ultimately to build a more powerful and transnational reproductive rights movement,” according to Mónica Arango, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Center’s International Legal Program and the head of the Bogotá office.

Arango is from Colombia where she previously was a legal adviser to the Constitutional Court of Colombia before she joined with Monica Roa at Women’s Link Worldwide. Roa challenged Colombia’s pro-life laws which resulted in the 2006 decision of the Constitutional Court to allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, the life of the mother, or if the child has a disability. The legislature had voted against legalization of abortion six times before the Court decision.

The Center’s regional office in Nairobi, Kenya, will concentrate on advancing a reinterpretation of human rights to include abortion and access to abortion under the broad term of reproductive health or health care. The focus of the Center will include “the high incidence of maternal deaths, including those from unsafe abortion, human rights abuses perpetrated against women seeking reproductive healthcare, and adolescent girls’ reproductive health.”  Targeted countries are Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda as the Center seeks to “transform the landscape of reproductive health and rights worldwide.”

The Center was very active in the campaign for the new constitution in Kenya which legalized abortion for a broad health exception and the Nairobi office will be run by Elisa Slattery who previously worked at the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya, an organization which helped write and promote the Kenyan constitution. In a post passage paper-Gains of the New Constitution- the Center states: “Under the new Kenyan Constitution, women have the right to access safe and legal abortion where the pregnancy presents a danger to their mental or physical health.” 

It continues, “Although not defined in the Kenyan Constitution, health is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.” The U.S. Supreme Court also relied on such a broad definition of health in its abortion decision to allow abortion on demand for all nine months under the guise of a “health” exception.

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