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The great American abortion fightback
By Agustina Ordoqui
The Wrap brings you all the latest news on women’s rights around the world, including:
- 🇺🇸 US voters defend abortion rights
- 🏳️🌈 LGBTQIA+ victories in Chile and Mexico
- 🇹🇼 Taiwan provides free period products in train stations
Read on for more. And if you want to be up-to-date on feminism worldwide, follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
We’ll be discussing these developments and more live on Instagram this Thursday, November 17th at 5pm CET. Join us!
US — Abortion has emerged as a defining issue in the results of the US midterm elections. Five states held referendums on abortion: in California, Michigan and Vermont, voters were asked whether they wanted abortion access to be enshrined in their local constitutions. They voted Yes. In Montana, they were asked whether they approved the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which reproductive rights groups said could criminalise families and doctors in cases of pregnancy complications, while in Kentucky they were asked whether they wanted to amend the constitution to prohibit abortion rights. In both cases, the No vote won, favouring reproductive rights. Meanwhile, Maura Healey of Massachusetts became the first lesbian to be elected governor of a state.
MALTA — The Maltese government will introduce a bill to allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy when the pregnant person’s life is at risk, prime minister Robert Abela has said. The law will be tabled in the next two weeks, he said, though he denied that total legalisation of abortion was under discussion. Malta is the only country in European Union with a total abortion ban, forcing hundreds of people to have clandestine abortions every year. In June, Andrea Prudente, an American woman who was on holiday in Malta, suffered a miscarriage and had to be evacuated to Spain to have a life-saving abortion after local doctors refused to carry out the procedure. Prudente is now suing the government, claiming the ban breached her human rights.
MEXICO — Quintana Roo has become the tenth Mexican state to legalise abortion. From now on, voluntary termination of pregnancy will be legal up to 12 weeks. But activists warned that the new decree removed a provision on abortion in cases of rape from the penal code. This provision allowed abortion to be performed without time limit if the pregnancy resulted from rape. So far this year, abortion has also become legal in the states of Sinaloa, Baja California Sur and Guerrero.
POLAND — The Warsaw Prosecutor’s Office has filed a formal indictment against three leaders of the 2020 mass demonstrations against abortion restrictions in Poland. Marta Lempart, Klementyna Suchanow and Agnieszka Czerederecka-Fabin from All-Poland Women’s Strike were accused of endangering public health and « causing an epidemiological threat » during the pandemic by organising a protest against a court ruling that virtually eliminated the right to abortion. The indictment was originally presented last year, but dismissed by the courts due to inconsistencies in the text. The prosecution has now re-filed the case. Meanwhile, the trial continues against Justyna Wydrzyńska, a member of Aborcyjny Dream who faces up to three years in prison for assisting a woman who needed an abortion.
VENEZUELA — Thousands of Venezuelans have signed a proposal supporting a proposal to legalise abortion, expand access to contraception and guarantee comprehensive sex education. The petition was launched by Ruta Verde, a coalition of feminist organisations. So far, it has obtained 13,000 of the 21,000 signatures required to present the initiative in the country’s national assembly. Activists hope to do so on November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In Venezuela, abortion is prohibited except if the life of the pregnant person is in danger
MEXICO — Equal marriage is now legal throughout Mexico after the state of Tamaulipas approved it in October. In recent weeks, the few remaining states that had not yet approved same-sex marriage made progress in changing legislation. These were the State of Mexico, the most populous state in the country, and Guerrero. The first state to approve it was Mexico City in March 2010.
CHILE — Chile has issued its identity document to a non-binary person. Trans rights activist Shane Cienfuegos became the first person to identify their gender with an ‘x’ on official ID after a nine-year legal battle. In Latin American, Argentina was the first country to recognise non-binary people legally in July 2021. In Mexico, Colombia and now Chile, it is permitted only through a judicial procedure.
IRAN — Demonstrations continue in Iran two months after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in the custody of Iran’s « morality police » after being arrested for wearing her hijab « improperly ». The Iranian government has continued to crack down on the protests, with parliamentarians recently voting to impose the death penalty on all protesters in custody. On October 28, cities around the world such as Berlin, London, Paris and Rome were the scene of new rallies in solidarity with the Iranian people and in particular with women.
TAIWAN — Period products are available for free in Taipei’s 20 busiest metro stations as of November 1 as part of a trial. Sanitary pads and tampons are now available on request at information desks. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation is testing a policy that has already been adopted in other Asian capitals such as Tokyo and Seoul. If the initiative is successful, it will be extended to all stations. The Ministry of Education has also announced that sanitary products will be provided in all schools in Taipei to combat menstrual poverty.
This issue of Impact was prepared by Agustina Ordoqui, Megan Clement and Rebecca Amsellem.
Impact is financed by the New Venture Fund.
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