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Honduras Birth Control Law: Background on it and the Country Itself

Honduras Birth Control Law: Background on it and the Country Itself
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May 30, 2013 Note: In February 2012, the Honduras Supreme Court upheld the contraception ban. In May 2012, there were several petitions against it, and they gained several hundreds of thousands of signatures. However, after searching today (a year later), I have not found an update to the situation. If anyone knows, I’d appreciate it.

Honduras is about to decide on a law, which would criminalize women for using morning after contraception, even if they were raped. The penalty would be the same for seeking an abortion there, which is three to six years (Guise 2012). This post provides a bit of history and information about the law, then briefly discusses Honduran political history, a little political culture of women there, and the potentially positive impacts of birth control on the environment. Links to a petition to the President of the Congress of Honduras and more information are provided at the post base.

Absolute Ban on Emergency Contraception: a History

  • The Honduran Congress actually first passed the ban in April 2009 (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012).
    • However, then-President José Manuel Zelaya vetoed the bill under pressure a month after it passed (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012).
    • Zelaya’s veto made it an issue for the Honduras Supreme Court (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012).
  • A military coup d’état occurred in June 2009 (Freeston and Cermont 2012).
  • Before the Supreme Court could decide anything; the de facto minister of health issued administrative regulation banning emergency contraception in October 2009 (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012).
  • On February 13, 2012, the Honduran Supreme Court upheld the law (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012).
  • Now the Honduran Congress has to decide whether to impose it (Center for Reproductive Rights 2012) (I think; I’m unclear on this process).
Absolute Ban on Emergency Contraception: What it Would Do (from Center for Reproductive Rights 2012)
  • As it stands now, just being caught with an emergency contraceptive pill would be considered an abortion attempt.
    • Abortion results in three to six years of prison for those seeking it.
    • Abortion results in three to ten years of prison for those, who perform it.
  • This law would criminalize:
    • medical professionals, who sell or distribute emergency contraception, and
    • women, who use emergency contraception or attempt to do so.
Brief Honduran Political History
Honduras does not need new ways to put people in jail. A country of 8 million people, it experiences 20 murders a day. In 2011, it became the most violent country in the world (Freeston and Cermont 2012).
  • June 2009: coup d’état: the military kidnapped President José Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica (Freeston and Cermont 2012).
  • Immediate and aggressive plans for mass tourism projects have caused economic, business, and all other policies to be enacted before people have time to react (Thompson 2011).
    • These mega-projects, as well as forestry and mining ones, lead to confiscation of indigenous and African-Honduran lands (Thompson 2011).
  • Early 1980s: U.S. backed military dictatorship (Freeston and Cermont 2012) (this is embarrassing; I learned in college [in the U.S]) that it was about keeping banana prices down in the United States).
    • The Honduras constitution was written under this dictatorship (Freeston and Cermont 2012).
    • It primarily benefits the elite few (Freeston and Cermont 2012).
Women in Honduras Already Seek to Empower Themselves and End Violence Against Them ( from Thompson 2011)
  • In July 2011, a large group of women gathered at Copan Ruinas, Honduras to discuss the realities of life since the coup d’état, and to “denounce the violence, repression, and domination of women operating through capitalism, patriarchy, and racism (Berta Caceres, coordinator for the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, in an interview with Escribana, as described by Thompson 2011).
    • They’ve indicated that cultures, lands, and natural resources had intensified since the coup.
    • Even water has been privatized.
Birth Control and the Environment (bulleted bits from Eaton in Epatko 2012)
Since private corporations reap havoc on the natural resources, care must be taken to counteract negative effects. Controlling population growth through birth control may be working in the Philippines, so it might have a positive impact in Honduras as well.
  • In the Philippines, food resources are decreasing, yet families are increasing.
  • Birth control is being made readily available to decrease the size of families.
  • Apparently, some families themselves already feel an ease of burden.

Neighboring El Salvador May 2013

On a related note, a story has come to light about an El Salvador woman who will likely die from her pregnancy with a fetus without a brain. She suffers from a chronic condition that worsens with her growing pregnancy. Her doctors indicate that the pregnancy will probably kill her. Ultrasounds indicate that her fetus has no brain. If she does survive her pregnancy long enough to give birth, her fetus will not. She, her doctors, and her lawyers have been fighting for an abortion for three months all the way to the El Salvador Supreme Court. The highest court denied her the abortion (Culp-Ressler 2013). If this is true, the right-to-life argument certainly could not be used.

Links

Petition and Law Links

History and Politics Links
  • Canada Deepens Ties with Deadly Regime in Honduras
    • This Upside Down World article primarily discusses the history of the June 2009 coup d’état; but follows with the Canadian mining company’s (Goldcorp’s) relationship with the new government and a law, that the government is considering, which would put corporate interests over human rights.
  • Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us
  • This Upside Down World article discusses a three day meeting of indigenous and Afro-Honduran women at Copan Ruinas, in which women discussed the intensification of hardships since the siege, and sought to bring about solutions.
Birth Control and Environment Link

References

Center for Reproductive Rights

2012   Honduras Supreme Court Upholds Absolute Ban on Emergency Contraception; Opens Door to Criminalize Women and Medical Professionals. Center for Reproductive Rights (posted online February 13, 2012). Electronic document, http://reproductiverights.org/en/press-room/honduras-supreme-court-upholds-absolute-ban-on-emergency-contraception-opens-door-to-crim, accessed April 16, 2012.

Culp-Ressler, Tara
2013 Salvadoran Woman Has Been Denied a Life-saving Abortion Even Though Her Fetus is Missing its Brain. ThinkProgress.com (posted May 30, 2013). Electronic document, http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/30/2077371/beatriz-denied-life-saving-abortion/, accessed May 30, 2013.

Eaton, Sam

2012   Birth Control Efforts in Rural Philippines. In In Philippines, Some See Birth Control as Path to Food Security by Larisa Epatko. PBS Newshour (published online January 23, 2012). Electronic document, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/01/food-for-9-billion.html, accessed April 16, 2012.

Freeston, Jesse and Stéfanie Clermont

2012   Canada Deepens Ties with Deadly Regime in Honduras. Upside Down World (posted online April 12, 2012). Electronic document, http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/3575-canada-deepens-ties-with-deadly-regime-in-honduras, accessed April 16, 2012.

Guise, Mary
2012   Fighting for their Rights: the Women of Honduras. The Urban Times (posted online April 13, 2012). Electronic document, http://www.theurbn.com/2012/04/fighting-for-their-rights-the-women-of-honduras/, accessed April 16, 2012.

Thompson, Margaret

2011   Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women: Autonomy and an End to Violence Against Us. Upside Down World (posted online July 27, 2011). Electronic document, http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/3132-indigenous-and-afro-honduran-women-autonomy-and-an-end-to-violence-against-us, accessed April 16, 2012.

Updated with El Salvador bit on May 30, 2013.

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Honduras Birth Control Law: Background on it and the Country Itself by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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