Table of Contents
FROM the BACK-ALLEYS to the
SUPREME COURT & BEYOND
The Spanish Language Outreach Project
LATIN AMERICAN SCREENING TOUR
With the Trilogy of Documentaries
FROM the BACK ALLEYS to the SUPREME COURT & BEYOND
Every September, activists in sixteen Latin American countries urge their governments to consider decriminalizing abortion. Participating countries include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Recently, documentary video producer Dorothy Fadiman was the invited guest of groups in countries throughout Central and South America, helping make their cause visible. Each screening was followed with open discussion. During these gatherings, Dorothy explained how she herself almost died from an un-anesthetized, blindfolded back-alley abortion in the United States in 1962. She produced these videos because she does not want women anywhere to have to suffer the tragic results of unsafe procedures when restrictions prevent appropriate medical services. These videos follow the struggle for decriminalization of abortion in one country, the United States, the success of those efforts, and the impact of restrictions which are now eroding those rights. These documentaries are not specifically about the situation in Latin America. However, the stories of women who sought illegal abortions and those who aborted themselves before Roe V. Wade are paralleled throughout Latin America today, and increasingly so, among the poor and the young in the United States.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE GIVES AN OVERVIEW OF ONE COUNTRY IN LATIN AMERICA
IN WHICH ABORTION IS ILLEGAL IN MOST CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS PIECE APPEARED
IN THE MEXICAN PAPERS DURING DOROTHY FADIMAN'S OUTREACH TOUR.
MEXICO HEALTH MINISTER SPARKS ABORTION FIGHT
Church and state in Mexico are at loggerheads over abortion, a taboo subject in this predominantly Roman Catholic country. Suggestions by health officials that Mexicans should be open to discussion of the outlawed practice has drawn the fire of the church and anti-abortionists. Health Minister Juan Ramón de la Fuente told reporters last week that all points of view on abortion “that allow us to enrich personal perspective” should be heard. “We need to be tolerant in practice, not just in speeches,” he added.
But Archbishop Norberto Rivera quickly reaffirmed his opposition on abortion. Anti-abortion groups gathered to protest outside the Health Ministry with banners saying “No more massacres of innocents.” The Deputy Health Minister said on television Wednesday that de la Fuente had a neutral stance on the issue. “The ministry is not promoting any debate in this respect. What the ministry is doing is to point out what the health problems are,” Narro told broadcaster Televisa. But anti-abortion group Pro-Vida denounced de la Fuente, saying “the question of who should decide an innocent's life cannot be a matter for debate.”... “It didn't seem appropriate to us that the country's health minister should effectively adopt a stance tending towards decriminalizing abortion,” Pro-Vida spokesman José Manuel Cruz told Reuters.
For María Luisa Sánchez, coordinator of pro-choice group GIRE, abortion was a “harsh reality” in Mexico which could only be solved by bringing it out of the closet. She said many wealthier women quietly sidestepped the law and terminated pregnancies in private clinics. But state hospitals had no such facilities so the poor risked their lives in unhygienic and unprofessional abortions.
Sánchez estimates 1,000,000 abortions take place each year in
Mexico and 1,500 women die from clandestine procedures, figures Cruz says
are exaggerated. Under Mexico's constitution each person “has the
right to decide in a free, responsible and informed manner on the number
and space between their children.” For Sánchez, that implies
... eliminating ambiguities in legislation that vary across Mexico's 32
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