FACTBOX-Latin America's abortion laws

by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 4 June 2013 05:28 GMT

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Latin America has some of the world’s strictest abortion laws. In most countries in the region, abortion is only allowed in cases of rape or incest, or if the life of the mother or foetus is in danger. A handful of countries, mostly in Central America, have banned abortion under any circumstances.

Below is a look at the region’s abortion laws:

  • The estimated annual number of unsafe, clandestine abortions in Latin America increased slightly between 2003 and 2008, from 4.1 million to 4.4 million.
  • Of the 4.4 million abortions performed in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2008, 95 percent were unsafe, involving women performing abortions on themselves and surgery carried out by untrained health providers.
  • Every year, about 1 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean end up in the hospital for treatment of complications resulting from unsafe abortion, including excessive blood loss and infection.
  • In Mexico, abortion is only legal in Mexico City up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
  • In 2006, Colombia partially decriminalized abortion in cases of rape or foetal abnormality, or if the life of the mother or foetus is in danger.
  • In 2012, Uruguay's congress voted narrowly to legalise abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • In 2012, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that abortion is legal for all rape victims, regardless of whether a woman is mentally ill or not.

Sources: Guttmacher Institute, World Health Organization, Center for Reproductive Rights

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