Venezuelan Women & LGBTQ Movements March to National Assembly & Demand Legalization of Abortion (Statement)

This Tuesday, September 28, Venezuelan feminist and LGBTQ organizations, women and other individuals grouped in the Green Route initiative (#RutaVerde) marched from Plaza Morelos to the Federal Legislative Palace to demand the legal and social decriminalization of abortion in Venezuela (#AbortoLegalYaVzla).

Specifically, demonstrators demanded the “immediate repeal of Articles 430, 431, 433 and 434 of the Penal Code,” those that criminalize the interruption of pregnancy in practically any situation. In reality, as explained in a statement by social movements, abortion constitutes “a public health and human rights issue.”

What is enshrined in Venezuelan law, which has not undergone modification for more than a hundred years, “does not constitute a coherent interpretation of the constitutional and international framework of human rights, and maintains a national legal regulation of these rights [that is] among the most backward in South America,” read a statement delivered to the Venezuelan National Assembly, and received by PSUV deputies Asia Villegas and Pedro Infante.
Another aspect highlighted in the document is the “doubly discriminatory” nature of the criminalization of abortion, as it not only affects women, girls and adolescents, but also those who are in a situation of poverty, individuals who are the most likely to be incarcerated, and most likely to suffer serious effects on their reproductive health—and even to lose their lives—when practicing “illegal” abortion procedures, which is a public health issue and also a class issue.

Here is the full text of the statement delivered to the National Assembly:

Communication | Criminalization of abortion: Public health and human rights issue
We, feminist organizations, collectives, social movements and individuals defending the human rights of women, adolescents and girls, from our various socio-political positions, agree and unite our voices to state that:

There are no valid scientific or legal arguments that support the criminalization of abortion, practically without exception, still in force in Venezuela. The provisions of the Penal Code, without modifications for more than a hundred years, does not align with a coherent interpretation of the constitutional and international framework on human rights, and maintains a national legal regulation of these rights, among the most backward in South America.

The criminalization of abortion violates the human rights of women, girls, and adolescents to personal integrity, health, and free development of personality; the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; the right to live a life free of violence—in short, to human dignity.

This violation of human rights is doubly discriminatory. On the one hand, it only affects women, girls and adolescents given their specific reproductive condition, and on the other, it particularly hits those who are in a situation of poverty, who are exposed to being deprived of their liberty, diminished in their physical integrity or [more likely] to die in the attempt to aspire to a viable life project.

The criminalization of abortion is a public health problem, which causes the preventable death of women, girls, and adolescents. On the one hand, it is officially recognized that unsafe abortion is the third leading cause of high maternal mortality in our country; on the other hand, it causes serious injuries that incapacitate hundreds of women, adolescents, and girls, who must also live with the stigma of illegality. This is without counting the significant under-registration of clandestine abortions.

Therefore, we demand:

1. To repeal the crimes on abortion provided for in Articles 430 (attempted abortion), 431 (consensual abortion), 433 (aggravated abortion) and 434 (honor abortion) from the Penal Code.

2. To draft, with the participation of organizations that defend the rights of women, girls, and adolescents, the legislation to guarantee the right of women to safe abortion, so that it is discussed in the 2021-2022 legislative agenda.

3. Promote the debate around abortion, based on human rights, ethics, and scientific evidence, free from moral and religious considerations as appropriate in a secular state.

4. Abortion crimes cause death and disabling injuries suffered disproportionately by the most vulnerable.

Many analysts and experts view with alarm how religious values and those of machismo have prevented Chavista Venezuela from advancing beyond its current legislation, which constitutes one of the most backward legal codes in the world in issues related to abortion, same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba was the pioneer in this area, decriminalizing abortion completely in 1965. Other countries followed slowly but in recent years Guyana (1995), Uruguay (2012), and Argentina (2020) have legalized abortion. The first country to decriminalize abortion was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1920.


Featured image: Banner reading “Legal Abortion Now.” Photo courtesy of Twitter/@TatuyTV.

(La IguanaTV) with Orinoco Tribune content

Translation: Orinoco Tribune


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