.- On Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion lobby and legal support group, held a briefing on Capitol Hill to explain to congressional staff its continuing plan to bring abortion to countries around the world - particularly to Latin America. The meeting was titled “Advancing Reproductive Rights in Latin America.”
Officials for the Center for Reproductive Rights told congressional staff that the center will continue to initiate and support legal cases in Latin America in order to open doors for abortion in countries where citizens do not support pro-abortion legislation. The speakers described particular success in supporting legal cases, which are slowly widening the availability of abortion in several countries where abortion has been partially legalized already.
The group spoke about the court cases they have won, particularly the “Paulina Case” in Mexico, where abortion has been legalized in cases of rape.
The “Paulina Case” involved a young girl who was raped and attempted to seek an abortion. However upon seeking medical council, doctors and others reportedly talked her out of the abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge based upon the situation, and has used their legal victory in the case to force legislation which requires abortion to be more readily accessible.
As a result of the case, the Mexican government is taking action to train all Mexican medical personnel on the availability of abortion in their country. Next month, the government is expected to issue to Mexican states a set of comprehensive regulations, created by the federal health minister, for medical and judicial personnel to follow when facing a situations similar to the “Paulina Case.”
The women who spoke on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights acknowledged that the strong values in these countries view abortion as immoral and that it will take a great deal of “education” to change views of Latin Americans on abortion. They spoke about the need for grassroots campaigns to advance support for abortion and to inform women about the legal availability of abortion in cases of rape.
They expressed their intention to eventually bring legal challenges in Chile and El Salvador, where abortion laws are among the toughest.
They also declared a victory in a case involving a Peruvian mother and child. In 2001 a young mother was denied permission to abort her child, who was diagnosed with a fatal brain anomaly. The mother was required by the doctors to continue her pregnancy and gave birth to the child, who eventually died. The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with several other groups, took the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The UN Committee declared that the woman should have had a legal recourse to seek an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights considers this ruling to be the first time that an international court ruled that abortion is a reproductive and human right.