Video of an Argentinian March –

On September 28, 2023, thousands of women dressed in green flooded the streets of cities across Latin America to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day. The day was launched in November 1990, when women’s rights activists met in Argentina to share new knowledge about medical abortions and fight for reproductive justice. More than 3,000 people attended the summit, including feminist groups from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and other Latin American countries. At the time, women in Latin America had little to no access to sex education, contraception, and abortions. The region also had a high number of deaths due to illegal and unsafe abortions, illustrating the urgent need for this movement. Every year since the summit, women across Latin America have mobilized to fight for abortion rights, waving fists in the air and wearing the day’s symbol: green scarves. The day continues to play a key role in championing the decriminalization of abortion, equitable access to safe and affordable reproductive services, and ending associated stigmas. Additionally, the date was chosen in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Brazil which is now remembered as the day of the “free womb” demanding for safe and legal abortion for all women.

This year’s International Safe Abortion Day was marked by a historic triumph in Mexico. On September 6, 2023, Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down the Federal Penal Code which criminalized abortion. The court found the code unconstitutional as it violated the human rights of people with capacity for pregnancy. As a result of this landmark decision, federal health institutions will now be required to provide abortion services upon request. These services will have a particular focus on serving marginalized populations, including indigenous and economically disadvantaged women. This victory served as the focal point of the September 28 celebrations, both nationally and internationally.

In Argentina, women passionately took to the streets of Buenos Aires in defense of the right to abortion, which was decriminalized in 2020 after the “green wave movement” pushed for the reform. The country’s current law on abortion allows a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy in the first 14 weeks, leading to a 40% drop in maternal mortality since being enacted. However, the upcoming October 2023 presidential election worries feminist groups. The likely victory of far-right candidate Javier Milei, who received 31% of the votes in the primary, may revoke these rights. Milei has promised to hold a referendum to repeal the nationwide decriminalization of abortion that was approved by the Argentinian Congress in 2022

People in Chile also mobilized to protect their abortion rights in cities like Santiago and Viña del Mar.  

These marchers fought against the country’s latest constitution draft which calls into question the right to abortion as far-right legislators in Chile’s Constituent Assembly have introduced the protection of life before birth into the text. A referendum on December 17 will determine whether this amendment will be approved, potentially overturning national abortion protections. Moreover, this year’s march held greater significance for Chile as it marked 50 years since General Augusto Pinochet seized power and forced conservative and Catholic values on the country. In 1989, Pinochet prohibited abortion in all circumstances before his regime ended. 

Brazilian feminists rallied nationwide to demand reproductive justice. The protests coincide with the Brazilian Supreme Court’s recent debate on decriminalizing abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, legislation only legalizes abortion in cases of sexual violence, risk to the mother’s life, and/or birth defects. If the court decides to uphold women’s rights, this would be a key victory for the abortion rights movement and could drive positive change throughout the region.

While some International Safe Abortion Day marches across Latin America were celebratory, others demonstrated a sense of urgency regarding the protection of abortion and reproductive rights. Nevertheless, the day serves as a poignant reminder of the movement’s work to decriminalize and legalize abortion through changing laws and cultural norms across both the region and globe. International Safe Abortion Day is a resounding call to action to demand access to reproductive rights for all.

Credits for media: Video of an Argentinian March –


Other posts that may interest you: