Abortion in Bolivia

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Billboard sponsored by three Bolivian organizations—led by Catholics for the Right to Choose—advocates for greater abortion rights. The billboard depicts a traditionally dressed Aymara woman holding pen and paper and saying "I study law." The main text reads, "Exercising my sexual and reproductive rights has permitted me to become a professional." It cites Article 66 of the 2009 Bolivian constitution.

Abortion in Bolivia is illegal, except in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the woman's health.[1] This policy forms part of the Penal Code laid down in 1973, and has been in force since then. Due to the difficulty of receiving abortions - even if the abortion does fall under one of the exceptions to the law, judicial permission needs to be secured, which can take a very long time - many pregnant women end up having unsafe, clandestine abortions instead. According to the Bolivian Ministry of Health, almost all of the 67,000 abortions performed in Bolivia in 2011 were clandestine, with approximately half of the women who received them needing hospital care afterwards.[2] This practice has been linked to the high maternal mortality rates in the country.[3]

Efforts were made to change the law in 2005, when legislators from the Movement for Socialism introduced a bill to legalise abortion, but it was quickly rejected.[3] In 2013, four years after the introduction of Bolivia's new constitution, Patricia Mancilla began a legal challenge calling for the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal to declare many provisions of the Penal Code, including the anti-abortion legislation, unconstitutional.[2]

On 6 December 2017, Bolivia's National Assembly voted to decriminalize abortion before eight weeks of pregnancy for "students, adolescents, or girls". Although the legislation does not specify an age limit, it is considered to apply to girls of age 17 or lower. Health Minister Ariana Campero supported this legislation as a measure to reduce the maternal mortality rate, and President Evo Morales signed the reform into law on December 15, 2017.[4] However, the reform law was repealed in its entirety on January 27, 2018, in response to protests about its provisions criminalizing medical malpractice.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IPAS Bolivia". Ipas (organization). Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b Kane, Gillian (24 June 2013). "After Jailing Women, Bolivia Weighs Legalizing Abortion". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b Castellanos, Angela. "Legal Abortion Care in Bolivia Often Denied". RH Reality Check. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Bolivia lawmakers vote to ease right abortion restrictions". ABC News. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  5. ^ Ortiz, Pablo (January 27, 2018). "Evo entierra el nuevo Código Penal y ahora la protesta se centra en el respeto al voto". El Deber. Retrieved 2018-04-08.