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Costa Rica
Thursday, August 5, 2021

Movement aims to legalize abortion in Costa Rica, sparking protest

A Costa Rican lawmaker on Wednesday continued for a third day her sit-in in the center of the plenary room of the Legislative Assembly, in protest at a movement that aims to expand abortion rights in the country.

“I am opposing it because in the articles they bring, there is one that says that abortion can be done up to fourteen weeks (…) it is an aberration against the unborn,” legislator Nidia Céspedes, of the conservative New Republic Party, told AFP.

“I am no longer in my seat, I came to the center of the plenary (of 57 legislators). It is not possible to understand how various feminists want to introduce abortion. The unborn will represent us later. They now have no voice but this deputy raises her voice for them,” she added.

The deputy stands without shoes and participates in the sessions from the center of the plenary, located in the capital, San José. She then she spends the night there until the next day, when work resumes.

She said that she will maintain this measure until she is heard by the government. Her protest, she says, is also in response to the lack of sanction for the murders of two indigenous leaders, defenders of native peoples.

At the beginning of March, the Costa Rican collective Movement for Legal Abortion presented an initiative to decriminalize abortion, which they hope to bring before Parliament. For this proposal to be up for debate, it must be supported by at least 170,000 signatures. The organization has already started collecting signatures.

The national campaign is “for our right to choose,” organizers say, and seeks access to “legal, safe and free abortion in Costa Rica.”

The movement proposes that women can freely decide if they can have an abortion, up to the 14th week of gestation. Beyond 14 weeks, the only legal abortions would be therapeutic — when the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. In Costa Rica, abortion is not allowed in case of rape.

In 2019, the government of President Carlos Alvarado, of the progressive Citizen Action Party (PAC), put into effect a technical rule that regulates the application of therapeutic abortion in case of risk to the health or life of the mother, a measure that unleashed angry reactions from conservative sectors.

The provision establishes a guide for carrying out abortions in accordance with the provisions of the Penal Code, which since 1970 allows for the interruption of pregnancy in the country only in the event that there is a risk to the health or life of the pregnant woman.

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