By Mariantonia Mejia/ Contributing writer
Most Colombian citizens who chose to have abortions before March 2022 faced anywhere from one to three years in prison. As laws continue to evolve, predominantly conservative countries are leaving the U.S. in the dust in terms of reproductive rights.
With anti-abortion activists working around the clock to overturn Roe V. Wade and states being in near-complete control over abortion restrictions, it seems that daily life is becoming more dystopian by the minute.
Regardless of how damaging these laws can get, it is still a widely held belief that we have significantly more freedom than other countries. This lack of freedom pertains heavily to Latin American countries due to the heavy influence of religion and conservative values in their daily culture.
Up until very recently, we were right to think this way. For years, the U.S. has remained one of the most progressive countries in terms of reproductive freedom in the Americas, which isn’t the highest bar.
For many women in South America, they were not even awarded the fear of losing their rights, they simply were not given them in the first place.
As of late, however, things have changed. On Feb. 21, 2022, the Constitutional Court of Colombia voted to decriminalize abortion up to 24 weeks, with abortions happening after this period subject to restrictions.
Essentially, third-trimester abortions are only legal in Colombia in the case of incest or rape, fetal inviability outside of the womb, or a health risk posed to the parent.
To be clear, this is not a complete and total victory.
Though late-term abortions represent only 1% of all abortions, they can still be necessary for situations outside of these restrictive guidelines. Reasons include, according to the Keiser Family Foundation: raising money for the procedure and related costs, being unaware of the pregnancy, difficulty securing insurance coverage, trouble deciding about the abortion, not knowing where to go or having trouble finding a facility, or disagreeing about abortion with the father.
Even with this caveat taken into consideration, it is still a huge step in the right direction, not only for reproductive rights activists but any person that may face themselves with the possibility of carrying a child that they are unequipped to raise.
Along with this, Colombia just made itself one of the most progressive countries in Latin America, paving the way for developing countries throughout the world.
Having this in mind, we must consider how strikingly similar and possibly even more regressive, the United States, particularly Florida, has become compared to Colombia.
For some time, Florida has been held as one of the only states in the South that would still uphold the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned. Despite this, lawmakers in the Sunshine State are fighting to restrict reproductive rights further.
In March, Florida lawmakers voted on an abortion ban that would place restrictions on abortions after the 15-week mark.
Not only is this a 9-week deduction from the original 24-week cutoff, but it puts us societally behind supposedly conservative countries like Colombia. The law is now set to be signed by Gov. DeSantis, who, given his ultra-conservative values, is expected to put it into action.
The world is not a monolith, and neither are we as humans. We cannot expect every country to be on the same page about issues pertaining to social justice, mostly because of cultural and religious differences.
However, when the country touted as the freest in the world becomes more retrogressive than a country in which conservative values typically reign supreme, the people will not remain quiet.
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