28 September 2017, Caracas, Venezuela – Under the slogan “We Want Ourselves Alive”, revolutionary feminists and popular movements took to the streets Thursday in commemoration of the International Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion.
According to the feminist movements who gathered outside the National Consituent Assembly (ANC) in Caracas, the debate about abortion and sexual and reproductive rights remains a debt that the Bolivarian Revolution has not yet paid despite the many advances in the area of women’s and human rights.
“We are very concerned that in these 18 years of the Bolivarian Revolution we have not achieved a complete legal and material development of our sexual and reproductive rights, as they are an integral part of fundamental human rights of a people in revolution and make the difference between life and death for many of the women of our homeland…” states the document that was presented to the Commission for Women and Gender Equality of the ANC that day.
Abortion as a human right in revolution
Abortion remains completely penalized in Venezuela, in all cases except when it poses a direct threat to a woman’s life despite the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which stresses the urgency of therapeutic abortion in the case of rape, incest, malformation of the fetus and incompatibility of life.
According to Mariana García of the Network for Information about a Safe Abortion (RIAS) “In Venezuela abortion, just like everywhere else, is an extremely common something ordinary for all women, but given it’s status of complete illegality in all possible causes, it is extremely traumatic and complex for a women to have an abortion. This is mostly true for the poorest women who can’t afford a clinic or even the medicines necessary for a safe termination of a pregnancy, everyday they are more expensive, less accessible, and more controlled by… the black market… as a consequence, many women bleed to death, many try methods that are not safe or many just don’t terminate unwanted pregnancies…”
Mariana Garcia emphasizes that abortion needs to be considered a question of human rights for woman in Venezuela, protecting lives from unsafe clandestine abortive practices as well as guaranteeing quality of life.
“Women have to support all kinds of obstacles product of the capitalist and patriarchal systems and… one of the fiercest obstacles here in Venezuela are undesired pregnancies because we live in a country, where abortion is not only inaccessible, but also, we do not have sexual education in order to freely decide, nor do we have easy access to contraceptives in order to prevent conception, so family planning is a responsibility the falls entirely on the women, and on top of that, it is a responsibility that it is almost impossible to comply with in this country,” she said. “We don’t believe that abortion is the killing anyone, rather the opposite, safe, free and responsible abortion, is a way to protect and guarantee the lives of women that decide that route.”
Rummie Quintero, trans activist, states that for her the right to abortion is a question of corporal autonomy and the right to decide about one’s own sexuality, identity and body.
“It is important that the state does not overstep our autonomy and our own decisions as human beings about how we intervene or not, our own bodies. But this has to be constitutionalized. “
Demands for integral sexual, reproductive and identity rights
Although the decriminalization of abortion was the principal demand this 28th of September, the feminist movements also called on the ANC for the expansion of sexual and reproductive rights through the creation of a chapter dedicated exclusively to them within the new constitutional text, which includes:
The guarantee of access to quality service and attention for sexual and reproductive health of women in all phases of life.
The constitutionalization of the right to a humanized birthing process which respects the biological and psychological conditions of each woman.
The right of women and LGBTQ groups to decide about their reproductive functions and their sexualities.
The recognition of women’s rights to choose about the interruption of a pregnancy.
The guarantee of voluntary termination of pregnancies provided by the public health system free of charge.
The responsibility of the state to provide access to sexual education during the entire life span and at all levels of education.
The guarantee of free access to all types of contraceptives whether they be barrier, hormonal or emergency methods.
An open national debate on all articles which specify sexuality, reproduction and pleasure.
ANC Women’s and Gender Equality Commission Promises Debate
A delegation of the Commission for Women and Gender Equality of the ANC, inaugurated that same day, received the document presented by the feminist movements during the protest. Members of the delegation stated that the proposals have arrived at an opportune moment as the commissions have just begun their process of conformation and will be receiving proposals from all organized movements for discussion “no matter how controversial they may be for certain sectors”.