Tuesday 28 March 2023

Collective promotes popular initiative for “legal, safe and free” abortion in Costa Rica

The popular initiative project will seek to collect the signatures of 5% of the electoral roll

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28 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – As of Monday, March 8, “Aborto Legal” the Costa Rican collective promotes a popular initiative to guarantee “legal, safe and free” abortion in the country.

The Costa Rican collective Aborto Legal took to the streets of downtown San Jose on Monday, March 8, 2021, to rally support for a popular initiative to guarantee “legal, safe and free” abortion in the country

The initiative will seek to obtain the support of at least 5% of the electoral roll, as the only requirement for the text to officially enter the legislative stream.

One of the spokespersons for the collective, Heidy Valencia, said that it is an initiative that goes beyond lifting the current bans, but also seeks to promote sex education and combat discrimination.

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“It is a global project. It is called “Interrupción voluntaria del embarazo” (Voluntary interruption of pregnancy), but truly, in addition, to establish that it is a right of access enabled for all women and people with the ability to carry out abortions in the country, and also includes aspects of sexual education.

“Measures are also included to avoid discrimination for deciding to interrupt pregnancy and that is why they include not only reforms to the Penal Code, but also the General Health Law, the Childhood and Adolescence Code, among others,” she commented.

Valencia also pointed out that, beyond the text of the law, the main intention is to put the issue on the table and advance a national discussion that has been postponed for decades.

Likewise, she assured that the text seeks to give cohesion to national efforts in the matter and to follow the example of discussions such as those that made possible the legalization of abortion in Argentina.

“It is a struggle that is on the rise. We organize ourselves around the realization of this project, and we participate in different groups, organizations and independent activists (…) We want the women’s movement to be established, to be established in the streets to defend this right and to conquer it, and our motto will be “we have a project, let’s win it in the streets.”

“Today, March 8, we present it in a very symbolic way. We make it available and start with this campaign for a legal, safe and free abortion. We know that it is not an easy path, with conservative and anti-rights sectors that are in the Legislative Assembly and more, but we are willing to fight, not to lower our guard and to demand that we are the only ones who can control our bodies.

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“This (the fight for abortion) has not been represented politically and this is an enormous effort, but it enables us to have this discussion and debate take place, with the citizens. We want to talk face to face with people to demystify and raise the reasons why it is necessary that abortion be legal (…) In short, as a way to get closer and to win society in favor of the law. To win that social majority, which is finally the way to conquer a right like this,” she stressed

The Legal Abortion movement has been operating in Costa Rica for three years. According to its organizers, it was born by the impulse of similar initiatives in the rest of Latin America and as a means to exert pressure on the Government, which until December 12, 2019, had taken more than a year to fulfill its promise to establish the protocols necessary to give legal certainty to the application of therapeutic abortion, as allowed in article 21 of the Penal Code to guarantee the life or health of the pregnant woman.

The project was officially presented Monday afternoon, through the group’s social networks.

Collecting signatures

Popular initiative projects are governed by the seven articles that make up Law 8491, which establishes that it is a right of “any citizen or group of citizens” to present a bill for legislative discussion, as long as it is presented in ordinary sessions and with the signature of at least 5% of the registered citizens in the electoral roll (around 170,000 people).

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The Legal Abortion spokeswoman explained that the group will use its social networks so that anyone interested in supporting, with their signature or with the collection to contact them.

The success of the popular initiative will depend on the “pressure” that can be created because the Legislative Assembly will hardly want to approve a project of this type if there is no pressure on the streets and society does not claim that this is a right.

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