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Some Ukrainian women in Poland, refugees from their country’s war against Russia, want to have abortions. But Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Poland’s rules fall short of the standards that the refugees should enjoy in their host country under international law.
“(Victims of sexual violence) need counseling and they need assistance,” Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Gillian Triggs told Reuters. “In some cases, they will need abortions.”
Meanwhile, in El Salvador, a woman received a 30-year prison sentence on homicide charges under anti-abortion laws after losing her baby during her pregnancy in a medical emergency, reported CBS News.
And as the Guardian wrote, citing the Guttmacher Institute and the Center for Reproductive Rights, 92 percent of African women have restricted access to abortion, and the lives of 15,000 women could be saved annually on the continent if they had better access to safe abortion procedures.
These countries are not outliers these days even as the trend in Europe and elsewhere has been to soften or lift restrictions on abortions, USA Today explained. In deeply Catholic Latin America, in particular, formerly draconian rules against abortion have given way to lesser punishments or complete legalization. Some Middle Eastern governments have also softened their approach to abortion slightly, added Haaretz.
In Colombia, a socially conservative Catholic country where women were not granted the vote until 1954, abortions were illegal until 2006. Since then, National Public Radio reported, anti-abortion laws have slowly loosened. In February, the Colombian Supreme Court legalized abortion for the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Now the country has some of the most progressive laws on abortion in Latin America.
It would be incorrect, however, to think that these legislative victories for pro-choice forces in Colombia reflected a wholesale change in public opinion in the South American country. Anti-abortion activists took to the streets to protest. Colombian President Ivan Duque condemned the decision. “Five people cannot tell an entire nation something so atrocious — that a life can be cut off at six months,” the president said.
Meanwhile, as the fight over abortion heats up in the United States, each side in the debate knows that eliminating the right to abortions in the country would help or hurt their corresponding efforts in Latin America and beyond, argued Washington Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor.
It’s a worldwide edge issue.