The justices made clear they were not deciding the constitutionality of the law, which could still be struck down. But the decision raised the specter that the court’s new conservative majority could eventually overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion.
In Latin America, abortion rights advocates have turned to courts as well as legislatures to advance their cause.
Activists have often stressed health concerns in an effort to dodge moral imponderables. They argue that because women will seek abortions regardless of legality — backdoor terminations kill hundreds of women each year in Latin America, according to the World Health Organization — it is better that they have access to a safe, lawful process.
“We put the focus on how women from the most vulnerable communities — they live in poverty, suffer from discrimination, probably don’t have access to resources or education — are most in need,” Rosero said.
While mostly underground, abortion is widely available in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research group that supports abortion rights, estimated that between 2010 and 2014 nearly a third of all pregnancies in the region ended in abortion.
The biggest stage for the abortion debate in Latin America is Brazil, home to the world’s largest Catholic population.
The issue bolted into the headlines in Brazil last year when a 10-year-old girl from Espírito Santo state was found to be pregnant, the result of rape by her uncle, according to Human Rights Watch. Though she was legally entitled to an abortion, one hospital initially refused to perform the procedure.
She eventually had the abortion, but antiabortion protestors — who published the girl’s name — blocked the entrance of the hospital where the procedure was performed. The girl, holding two stuffed animals, had to enter hidden in a minivan.
On the legal front, a case that could potentially lead to broader decriminalization has been pending before Brazil’s high court since 2017, but experts don’t expect a decision anytime soon.