Honduras was already one among few international locations worldwide with an entire ban on abortion, which means the operation cannot be carried out even in circumstances of rape or incest, when the fetus is gravely deformed, and if the being pregnant endangers the mom’s life. The use, sale, distribution and buy of emergency contraception can be prohibited.

The new reform, generally known as “Shield Against Abortion in Honduras” and promoted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s ruling National Party, additionally now creates a authorized “shield” towards future adjustments to the ban.

'You can't just remove the damage of the last four years'

The adjustments increase the Congressional voting threshold to modify abortion regulation from two-thirds majority to three-quarters. Since Honduras’s unicameral Congress has 128 deputies, the brand new guidelines would require a minimum of 96 to vote for future adjustments to these articles — an unlikely situation in the mean time, since 86 voted for the amendments.

The reform additionally blocks any future makes an attempt to repeal or modify the change. “Legal provisions created after the effective date of this Article that establish otherwise, will be null and void,” states the ruling from the Congressional fee appointed to the matter.

“As a woman and a mother, I am in favor of life and against abortion, I want to speak on behalf of those who are in the mother’s womb and cannot be opposed,” stated Gloria Bonilla, a Deputy for the Liberal Party who voted for the change.

Women’s rights advocates have fiercely condemned the change. Merly Eguigure, an activist with the Honduran rights group Movimiento de Mujeres por La Paz “Visitación Padilla” informed CNN it could solely reinforce harmful situations for Honduran girls.

“The shield law will continue to condemn poor women to practice abortion in unsafe conditions, which could lead to death on the one hand or to prison on the other,” Eguigure stated.

According to September 2020 report by the World Health Organization, unsafe abortions account for between 4.7% and 13.2% of maternal deaths globally, annually. The report additionally notes that “restrictive laws are not effective in reducing the rate of abortion.”

An epidemic of sexual violence

While it’s arduous to know what number of girls and underaged women have clandestine abortions in Honduras, the Honduran NGO Women’s Rights Center estimates that between 50,000 and 80,000 such abortions happen within the nation annually.
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The nation has one of many highest charges of sexual violence on the earth — typically a major think about undesirable pregnancies. Nearly one in three Honduran girls over the age of 15 has skilled bodily and/or sexual violence from an intimate associate, information from the United Nations’ 2020 Human Development Reports exhibits.

In 2018, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) carried out a well being marketing campaign geared toward offering medical and psychological well being care to survivors of sexual violence in Mexico and Honduras. In the Honduran capital metropolis of Tegucigalpa, 90% of all being pregnant circumstances attended by the MSF mission have been due to sexual assault.

Nineteen % of these circumstances have been teenage moms below 18 years outdated. “We know that a teenage pregnancy has a major risk of complications, putting both mother and baby at risk,” stated Tania Marin, MSF Regional Medical Coordinator for Mexico and Honduras.
The adolescent delivery charge in Honduras is increased than the area’s common and greater than twice the worldwide common, in accordance to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The minimal age for authorized sexual consent in Honduras is 14. But in 2017 alone, 820 women aged between 10 to 14 gave delivery in Honduras, in accordance to information from the well being secretary cited by HRW.

Political pressures in a serious election 12 months

Nevertheless, for over 30 years the Honduran authorities has clung to a system that penalizes girls with up to six years of jail for acquiring an abortion, even in circumstances of rape or incest.

In February 1997, Honduras’s penal code was modified to set up a penalty from three to six years in jail for girls who acquire an abortion and for the medical workers who’re concerned within the course of. In April 2009, the nation’s Congress handed a invoice banning emergency contraception — a transfer upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Pressure from Honduran non secular teams is broadly seen because the dominant political power in sustaining such strict legal guidelines on abortion.

“It’s impossible to understand how abortion is viewed in Honduras without considering the outsized role religion plays,” write researchers Amy Braunschweiger and Margaret Wurth in a June 2019 report for Human Rights Watch. “Conservative Christian churches, both Catholic and evangelical Protestant, are extremely influential and the vast majority of Hondurans belong to one or the other.”
And specialists from a United Nations working group that visited Honduras in November 2018 reported that “both Catholic and evangelical churches have significant influence over political decision-making bodies and public opinion, including in the discussion of the decriminalization of abortion in three circumstances and lifting the prohibition on emergency contraception.”

Eguigure, the ladies’s rights activist, put it extra bluntly. “The country is coopted by religious fanatics.”

2021 is a serious election 12 months in Honduras, with each the presidency and all 128 seats of Congress up for grabs. Though abortion is just not a traditionally decisive voting challenge for Hondurans, the subject could have been notably delicate amid the current wave of pro-choice rulings within the area.

“Abortion is murder, it is taking the life of those who want to be born,” Pastor Oswaldo Canales, President of the Evangelical Confraternity of Honduras informed members of Congress throughout a January 19 dialogue session on abortion with different non secular leaders, together with a priest from the Catholic Church.
Honduras is one among six international locations in Latin America and the Caribbean, together with the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Suriname to prohibit abortion altogether, in accordance to information from the Guttmacher Institute.

But Neesa Medina, a member of feminist collective Somos Muchas, informed CNN she believes its excessive anti-abortion stance can’t endure perpetually. The defend regulation reveals an actual worry of Latin America’s rising pro-choice motion, she believes.

“They don’t realize that it’s impossible to stop the future,” stated Medina.

Reporting contributed by CNN en Español’s Elvin Sandoval and CNN’s Jack Guy.

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