Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Flipping the script: Will Floridians now travel to Latin America for abortions?

An abortion-rights activist wears a mask with text that reads in Spanish "Legal Abortion" during a rally outside Congress as lawmakers debate a bill that would legalize abortion, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020.
Natacha Pisarenko
An abortion rights activist wears a mask with text that reads in Spanish "Legal Abortion" during a rally outside Congress as lawmakers debate a bill that would legalize abortion, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 29, 2020.

Abortion in Florida now looks more like abortion in Latin America — or what abortion used to look like in Latin America.

Some of the region’s largest countries have recently legalized abortion, now allowing it up to 14 weeks of pregnancy in Argentina and 24 weeks in Colombia, for example.

Meanwhile, a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy passed in Florida this month.

On the latest South Florida Roundup, we spoke to Daniela Martins, the strategy and communications director for the nonprofit Women’s Equality Center, and WLRN’s health reporter Veronica Zaragovia, to discuss the reversal in the abortion realities in Florida and Latin America.

“In the last two and a half years, three major countries in the region decriminalized abortion: Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia,” said Martins, pointing out that these are staunchly catholic countries. “These were very impactful wins and they have had what we've been calling this domino effect of the green wave in other countries in the region.”

The green wave or marea verde is a movement of feminists across Latin America fighting for the authorization of abortions and women's rights.

Florida’s new law allows some exceptions. It permits abortion up to 15 weeks of pregnancy in cases such as rape or incest, with proof from a doctor or law enforcement agency. Prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, abortion was legal in this state up until viability, which is around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Although already signed by the governor, the six-week abortion law’s fate still hangs on a decision by the Florida Supreme Court, which is still reviewing the legality of last year’s 15-week law after the state was sued by Planned Parenthood.

Martins says the reality of abortions receding in Florida and other parts of the United States has been met with tremendous pain and solidarity in Latin America.

“This is a fight that in Latin America we know all too well because we've seen this movie before,” she said. "The showcase of solidarity from Latin America to the U.S. has been extremely potent. One of these reminders is from Mexico, [which] has opened its doors to women from the United States that may have to find abortion care in other places.”

Now, after Latin Americans had come to Florida for access to abortion, Veronica Zaragovia says these new measures may flip the script.

“People might consider that it's cheaper to have a stay in a country like Colombia, which is ... certainly more affordable than going to any city in the U.S. with very expensive hotels,” she said.

Martins says that the messaging behind the movement is what’s changing both hearts and minds in the region and one of the most important lessons in the battle for the decriminalization of abortion.

“The message that this is a public health crisis, was instrumental in moving certain votes in the Argentinian Senate that guaranteed the victory,” said Martins. “When I speak of a multiplicity of messages and messengers, that's exactly what we're trying to pass off as one of our most important lessons through this.”

On The South Florida Roundup, we also received updates on the flooding that impacted all of Fort Lauderdale and other parts of Broward County and we discussed Fabián Basabe, a controversial state lawmaker at the center of a political storm in Miami Beach. Listen to the full episode above.

Copyright 2023 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Helen Acevedo