AuthorStopperich, Paige



  1. Introduction

    Since the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade, women in the United States have felt comfort in knowing they have autonomy over their own bodies and access to safe and legal abortion. (1) However, today, things in the United

    States are starting to look a bit different. (2) With former President Donald Trump's appointment of three conservative Supreme Court Justices, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and Justice Neil Gorsuch, the future of abortion rights in the United States is uncertain. (3) In addition, proposed abortion legislation in the [*362] United States is starting to mirror legislation in Latin America, where abortion policies are either at a standstill or becoming more restrictive. (4) One country, Guatemala, is in the process of enacting more restrictive abortion policies in response to United States proposals. (5)

    [*363] This Note explores the international consequences of the United States' hesitation to be a global trailblazer on the reproductive stage. (6) Part II will discuss the history and evolution of abortion laws in both the United States and Guatemala. (7) Part III will consider the current political climate in both countries and the proposed legislation. (8) Part IV will analyze the reasons [*364] for American conservative policies surrounding abortion, how it impacts women across the globe, and the future of abortion rights due to the torpid actions of the United States. (9) Finally, [*365] Part V concludes by calling on the United States to lead by example as a way to promote and protect reproductive rights for millions around the world. (10)

  2. History

    1. History of Abortion in the United States

      The history of abortion in the United States dates far back to the 1800s. (11) In the mid 1800s, abortion in the United States [*366] was widely illegal and criminalized. (12) The criminalization of abortion, however, did not stop abortions from taking place throughout the country. (13) Millions of women desperate to undergo the procedure resorted to illegal, risky, and unsafe abortions. (14) As a result, thousands of women either died or [*367] experienced severe health issues prior to nationwide legalization in 1973. (15)

      Abortion laws in the United States gradually began to evolve due to social activism and a string of Supreme Court cases. (16) Starting in the late 1960s, individual states began to liberalize their abortion laws providing women with access to safe and legal abortions. (17) Finally, in 1973, with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, women in all 50 states were granted more autonomy over their own bodies, thus resulting in freedom over their own lives. (18) However, shortly after Roe and without [*368] surprise, the anti-choice movement pushed forward and was successful in implementing barriers for women pursuing abortions. (19) In the early 1990s, states such as Pennsylvania, who disagreed with the decision in Roe, imposed hurdles on women seeking abortions, thus forcing the Supreme Court to once again reevaluate the meaning or privacy in terms of reproductive autonomy. 20

      [*369] In response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the anti-abortion movement in the United States continued to be violent throughout the 90s. (21) Despite the violence, under the Bush

      Administration the United States worked hard to advocate for reproductive rights both domestically and on the international stage. (22) During the 2000s, abortion [*370] and reproductive rights were subject to new legal challenges which eventually sparked societal backlash. (23) Finally, beginning in 2009 with the election of President Barack Obama, the federal government began to enact policies pertaining to the protection of reproductive rights. (24)


    2. History of Family Planning and Abortion in Guatemala

      Over time, Guatemala has been broken down by a rocky and violent history, including a shattering civil war, which has led to a devastating effect on reproductive rights. (25) At one point, Guatemala was liberalized and led by a democratically elected President; however, things took a turn when he was overthrown by a political coup backed by the United States. (26) The devastating civil war began in 1960 and was sparked by conflicts between political groups. (27) The political climate in Guatemala, as well as funding for family planning, remained incredibly [*372] unstable with the election and ousting of numerous different leaders. (28)

      Between 1970 and 1983, civil rights in Guatemala were under seize as a result of violent rulers. (29) In 1981,

      The Inter-American Human Rights Commission, wrote a report documenting the human rights violations against thousands of Guatemalans and called for accountability by the government. (30) [*373] Family planning programs also felt the effects of the civil war as funding and accessibility remained unpredictable. (31) When a new Guatemalan constitution was introduced in 1985, the future of reproductive rights continued to look bleak. (32) In addition, the first democratic election in sixteen years took place, however, the elected President, Vinicio Cerezo, failed to prosecute human rights violations and was eventually ousted. (33) In 1991, the first transition of power through elections occurred with the [*374] election of Jorge Serrano Elias, yet improvements to reproductive rights were not made. (34) of Health]" in Guatemala and eventually expanded. Id. Unfortunately, at the hands of political pressure, the Ministry of Health was forced to close all family planning services. Id.

      (32) See id. (recognizing creation of new Guatemalan constitution). An article was inserted into the new Constitution stating "that life begins at conception" due to pressure by opponents of family planning and abortion. Id. Guatemala's Archbishop at the time also asked U.S. President Reagan to cease assistance to family planning. Id. See also GUATEMALA'S CONSTITUTION OF 1985 WITH AMENDMENTS THROUGH 1993, CONSTITUTE (Feb. 19, 2021), available at https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Guatemala 1993.pdf?lang=en (laying out Guatemalan constitution). Article 3 addresses the right to life by stating, "The State guarantees and protects the human life from its conception, as well as the integrity and security of the person." Id. at 12. In addition, Article 47 addresses reproductive rights by stating: The State guarantees the social, economic, and juridical protection of the family. It will promote its organization on the legal basis of marriage, the equal rights of the spouses, [the] responsible paternity and the right of the persons to decide freely the number and the spacing [espaciamiento] of their children. Id. at 22.

      (33) See Calderon, supra note 29 (reiterating election of President Cerezo). President Cerezo was a Christian Democrat who was "the country's first civilian President in 16 years." Id. Guatemalans were optimistic that Cerezo would bring justice for the human rights violations, however, that was not the case. Id. See also Clifford Krauss, Rights Group Sees Failure By Guatemala Chief, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 11, 1990), https://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/11/world/rights-groupsees-failure-by-guatemala-chief.html (analyzing President Cerezo's shortcomings). Americas Watch released a report highlighting President Cerezo's refusal to prosecute violators. Id. The report stated, "Instead of bringing the perpetrators to justice... the Cerezo Administration has consistently tolerated and worse still, apologized for, unspeakable abuses committed by the men the President supposedly commands." Id.

      (34) See Tom Gibb, Protestant Is Winner In Guatemalan Vote, WASH. POST (Jan. 8, 1991), https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1991/01/08/protestant-is-winner-in-guatemalan-vote/79c2ac3e-8cd0-4ed6-976d-62779e67805b/ (addressing President Serrano Elias' election win). President Serrano, who received 68 percent of the vote in a runoff election, is "the first case of a Guatemalan civilian peacefully receiving power from another civilian." Id. See also Calderon, supra note 29 (describing reign of Jorge Serrano Elias). After his election, President Serrano vowed to prosecute human rights violators, however, his reign quickly turned into a dictatorship and he was ousted and exiled to Panama. Id. See also KNOWLTON, supra note 25, at 5-6 (addressing Guatemala's attempt to implement reproductive rights policy). In

      1992, the Commission of Intersectoral Education and Population was formed and, with aid from Catholic and Evangelical churches, successfully included parts of reproductive education in the Guatemalan school system. Id. at 5. Moreover, in

      1993, a "reproductive health and population initiative was created," but was met with strong opposition from the Church. Id. Despite the opposition, the law was approved in the third session of Congress, however, the law was instantaneously vetoed by then President Serrano Elias. Id. Any family planning "advances made in the 1980s were lost during the 1990s." Id. at 6.

      In 1994, peace negotiations within the country began and were finalized two years later when President Alvaro Aruz, signed the Peace Accords and ended the country's civil war. (35) Despite the signing of the Peace

      Accords, Guatemala continued to fall short on the reproductive rights stage. (36) Guatemala's reluctance to provide reproductive health care and family planning services violated numerous international human rights treaties. (37) Finally, starting in 2000, the Guatemalan government [*375] began to take reproductive health more seriously by implementing new programs and legislation. (38) Nevertheless, despite governmental improvements,

      Guatemala's growing population made reproductive health services difficult to access, especially for poor and indigenous women. (39)


  3. Facts

    1. Current Status and Proposed Legislation in United States

      Since the beginning of 2019, multiple states within the United States...

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