What can we learn from the Abortion Rights fight in Latin America?

At a time when the USA has struck down Roe v. Wade and there are attacks on women’s reproductive freedoms, the opposite has been happening in Latin America.

In this episode, Diana talks to Paula Avila Guillén, the Executive Director of the Women’s Equality Center about the Abortion Rights Fight in Latin America and La Marea Verde– the Green Wave– that has arrived in the USA.

If you’re a man who has unprotected sex at some point in your life you’ve been affected by birth control and abortion. 

Paula Avila Guillén

Paula Avila Guillén is an attorney from Colombia, who resides in New York.

They discuss the abortion rights movement in Latin America and how it went from being a small movement to something much. bigger that people marched into the streets– and to the courts — and how they’re winning and guaranteeing that women have bodily autonomy — in some of the most traditionally Catholic countries in the world. The work abortion rights activists are doing in Latin America is great and Paula gives great insight on what we can learn from what they’ve accomplished.

You can follow Paula on social media: @pauavilg


NEW! EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Let’s learn more about Abortion Rights fight in Latin America:

00:08 – Diana (Host)
Welcome to Parenting and Politics, a podcast for parents who want to make a difference when we look at parenting through a political lens. I’m Diana Limongi. Hello everyone. Today, our guest is Paula Avila Guillen, the Executive Director of the Women’s Equality Center. Paula bienvenida and welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited you’re here.
00:28 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Muchísimas gracias. I am super excited to be here. I love the podcast, I love the topic, so I am ready to share and have this conversation.
00:40 – Diana (Host)
So today we’re going to talk about abortion rights and la Maria Verde, which means the green wave, and what we can learn about our sisters in Latin America. We’ve really taken to the streets and raised their voices for abortion rights. But before we start with that conversation, I always ask all the guests on the podcast parenting and politics what comes to mind and why did I create that? Why should we be talking about this?
01:05 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
together, because there is nothing more political than raising a family. Everything that happens in the raising of family effect is affected by politics, because the way that we choose to raise a family is political. I have to say they have never become more, even radical, with my political views since I became a mother, understanding the word in a completely different way. Now we know why so many policies. They are decided, but those who are in political power affect really all of us when we become parents. So it’s this illusion that we just can raise a family and not be involved in politics is just an illusion. Everything about raising a family is political.
01:56 – Diana (Host)
Yes, my drop, okay. So something really fascinating is happening in Latin America. At a time when in the United States, we are taking away women’s rights to choose what to do whether or not to become parents, in Latin America, women are taking to the streets and they’re winning in courts, and abortion is becoming legal in places where we traditionally might think it could never happen. So let’s, at this stage, tell us a little bit about the movement for abortion rights in Latin America and how long it’s been in the making and how we are where we are today.
02:37 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yeah, it’s like for me, they are working mainly in Latin America, but I also live in New York and I am an immigrant. My heart is fleeting all the time and right now it’s fleeting because we are making progress in Latin America, but then we see what is happening in the United States and it’s heartbreaking. So the result of what is happening and let me just start by saying what is happening so for the last two years, three years, at this point, we have been able to make substantial progress in changing laws and policies in three of the largest countries in Latin America. We started in Argentina, then we went to Mexico and then we went to my home country of Colombia, and they were very progressive type of laws. We are recognizing autonomy. We are recognizing health as a human right. We are recognizing autonomy and abortion as a human right. We are saying this based on gender equality. We are saying this also based on anti-discrimination policies related to social economic status, and we are saying the government needs to provide these services because abortion is health care. So it’s really, really progressive. We are also talking about gender inclusive language in all of the legislation. It just has been magical to see what is happening, but this didn’t happen out of the blue. And this just didn’t happen because one day the governments of courts wake up and say, oh wait, a second. Actually people who get pregnant have rights. We should do something about it Now.
This is the result of years of fighting, but also years of seeing the devastated consequences of total abortion bans and very restricting laws. So I want to divide the conversation in two parts. One, the consequences. We have been collecting as movement data for many years that literally proves the restricting abortion and or prohibiting it altogether. That’s an end abortion but in the contrary, it increased maternal mortality, it increased unwanted pregnancies, it increased maternal morbidity and it disproportionately affect women who are and people who are in the most vulnerable situations, in situations of violence. So if you are in a domestic violence situation and you find out that you are pregnant, the likelihood of breaking that cycle of violence is very low if you are forced to have that pregnancy. In situations of sexual violence, women and girls are forced to have pregnancies and even though they are these great perceptions, we have seen over and over and over how they don’t work. They are not effective and especially if you come from low social economic income.
We say in Spanish las ricas abortan, las pobres y mueren. Rich women have abortion, poor women die, and we were able to collect this data for years and be able to show governments that this was a matter of public health and a public policy, that we were dying and if we were not dying, then we were suffering very hard consequences and unsafe abortion rates were up and even though pills are safe and pills are accessible, still who can access the pills? It all limited to, at the end of the day, creating this proportional impact for those more vulnerable. So while we were collecting the data and proving to the government that their policies were being ineffective, we were also protesting every day, and this started.
The feminist movement is very strong in Latin America, but the green wave started in Argentina about 20 years ago and the green pañuelo, the green handkerchief, started with Marta Lannis in Córdoba, argentina, a dear friend and mentor, and they just wanted to have a symbol, something that you feel proud of, that you just could put around your body, put in your pores, carry with you, and it will say I am standing for health, I am standing for abortion, I am standing for equality, and that is the green wave and the green handkerchief, and what it started as just a protest of a bunch of people. Initially was 20 of them, then it grew to 100, it became millions and it took over the entire region.
07:09 – Diana (Host)
And now it’s here. I have one, yeah, now it’s here, so so so you collected this data and you were able to show government. You know this is not working. It’s a matter of public health, etc. Etc. Everything you just described. So here’s where, here’s where my mind goes. We have all that data in the United States, right? So is it as simple to say that in the United States, the lawmakers just don’t care? They’re designing these policies to do exactly what they want to do, which is to keep poor people in poverty, to force many poor people and a lot of women of color who don’t have access to these impossible situations, like it’s just working the way they intended to work, which is an awful thing to say, but I don’t know what else to think at this point.
08:14 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yeah, I mean. I think there are two aspects to it. The first one is what I call the United States exceptionalism, right? This idea that, oh, that will not happen here. So a lot of the data it hasn’t been collected in the United States because we haven’t lived in a total abortion ban or we haven’t lived in restricting abortion to this limit, except for the last three months or four months, right? So it will take years before we collect the data, state by state, to the point. They create the same level of proof to them.
And it’s so sad to think of how many people are going to have to die, how many people are going to have to get injured emotionally and physically for us to collect the data, because when they look at the word, they say, oh no, no, no, that’s the excuse, right? We all know that this is not about abortion. Let me just be clear. We all know that these laws are not about abortion, but they are about control. You know they are about oppression, they are about controlling. They have nothing to do with abortion, but they are using abortion as an excuse and as a way to control and oppress us. But so they say those laws, those data in Latin America will not apply to here. Do you know how many times I have heard that women will not go in prison for miscarriages in the United States, even though I have telling them that we know the stories of the women in outside the door, that they are going to prison for miscarriages and stillbirds, even though we know that there is already criminalization of pregnancy here, and every lawmaker and everybody tells you no, no, no, that will not happen here because we have a strong judicial system. That will not happen here because our health system is stronger.
So there is this idea of exceptionalism in the United States.
They believe that the data will just not apply to them, which is absolutely BS.
We know this is BS, but then there is the other aspect of it, and I believe that we as movement tend to only blame the other side and no, also blame our allies into what is happening politically. One of the biggest lessons that we learn from Argentina and from Colombia is that you need to pressure the people who are on your side as much as you pressured the other, and also that you cannot just discuss the others, not the pressure, and then feel them. When we talk about an issue that is so divided politically. You should try to pressure them by individual basis, not by party basis. At the end of the day, they are all responsible for it, and I believe that we need to combine the mobilization efforts with the data and with the stories in a more aggressive way, at least for them to know that it’s in their hands what is happening, and I feel that sometimes we let them get away with just that rhetoric speech that they give us OK so pressure on all sides.
11:34 – Diana (Host)
Time to the streets. I feel like we have to do.
11:38 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yeah, that’s what we did. I mean, when I have been in conversations and people ask me it’s like, oh, but doesn’t make any sense to put some bills for a boat because we are going to lose because we don’t have the boats, I just reply we never had the boats in Latin America. We never had them until the day that we did and we lost many times. But we keep pressure everybody every day.
This idea that, just like, what is the point of protesting? Or what is the point if, at the end of the day, they don’t do anything, they will get tired of hearing you protesting. If you protest every day, it’s like you know this war of wills who gives up first? So you just need to be stronger. And yes, it’s awful that we need to be stronger. And yes, it is on us and it should not be on us, but it is on us and we should not have to be so strong and we should not have to be so aggressive and it should not be in our shoulders when we are also trying to raise families, when we are also trying to survive. But we have to have this fight, but it is on us to do it and we need to do it because there is no other option.
12:55 – Diana (Host)
OK, so so La Maria Verde started in Argentina and you said 20 years ago, yes, ok. And then when did? What year did abortion become legal in Argentina? Because this is fairly recent.
13:11 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yes, it was in December 2020. And this was after a previous attempt in 2018 in which we lost and then we had to, like, rethink. We were very close but we lost and then we have to rethink everything. But the event of the Maria Verde started in Argentina I will say that, only until probably 2015,. It became as big as it was. Initially.
It was just the feminist, it was the feminist movement showing up, but it all started and became very mainstream, and this happened because of the Niu Namanos movement, which means no one less. And what happened was that around November 25, days when we celebrate international the day against violence against women we always march around those days. So March 8 and November 25 are days in which we just go up and march and remember some way to make policymakers to remember that we exist and that we have needs and they are things that they need to be done. And there was a very there was a person who had died on a feminist side a very awful feminist feminist side, a woman, and people were very outraged by it. But then, at the same time, there was somebody else who had died because of unsafe abortion, and it kind of coincides. And the movements they say, wait a second, how we are going to be protesting for one but not for the other If, at the end of the day, the policies are the same. So it kind of united the movement between the violence against women movement.
There was the Niu Namanos movement and the Maria Verde movement. There was the movement for reproductive rights and freedom. And when the two movements got united, what it was a small Rio of Verde, it became the Maria Verde and it was just absolutely beautiful and powerful. And all of a sudden you realize that there actually was an issue. They went beyond the organizations, the feminist organizations, and it became a mainstream issue. It became an issue about citizenship, it became an issue about oppression, it became an issue about discrimination, it became an issue about equality, it became an issue about public health. And that just completely changed the narratives, the dialogue and the conversations with the government, because all of a sudden there were not only like the hundred crazy feminists protesting but there were like thousands of people on the street protesting, saying no more.
15:54 – Diana (Host)
And that’s so powerful it speaks to. So many of these issues are intersectional and a lot of times we want to divide and say, oh, like, yeah, the crazy feminists are crazy, but when you attach that humanity, right. Yeah, niuna Menos is all about women’s lives and feminists, I’m not mistaken, and the women that are dying. So I think even if you are a woman who is not necessarily in favor of abortion in Latin America, you could probably be in favor of, like I don’t want other women to be dying at the hands of violence et cetera.
So yeah. So then, ok, so it started in Argentina, and then we go to Mexico or Colombia. I was in Colombia the day. Mexico. Ok, mexico, and then Colombia, go ahead. So now Mexico. Mexico was also a big shock because Mexico you know tradition, like, like, traditionally super Catholic and you’re just breaking all these narratives. Go ahead.
17:06 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
And you have to remember that at this point, in Argentina, the pope is from Argentina. So, like this is already, like you know, it’s like Maralona Papa Francisco is on top in Argentina. So then you go to Mexico and then it is also shocked because, yes, it was a result of a movement and it was a result of a judicial decision, but it happened very differently than in Argentina. In Argentina it was a congressional vote at the federal level. What changed the law? In Mexico it was a decision from the Supreme Court in a case. They have been thought for many years but nobody knew. You know, sometimes in Latin America many courts don’t have the same level of deadlines of when they need to make a decision, so they take forever. So nobody knew when the case was going to be solved.
And then all of a sudden we hear the court made a decision in the case and the president of the court gives some of the most beautiful and inspiring speech that I have heard, because it’s a speech about equality in terms of gender, but also in terms of social economic status. And you say we need to level up the conditions in which people have abortions. It cannot be this dual system in which one those who have money can have it and those who don’t do it under unsafe conditions. It was like wow, you know, finally somebody is listening to all but we can be saying for so long and the decision is still implementing. Since then, there has been tennis days that have changed their laws, but it has to be a day by day, so it’s taken a lot longer time, but it has been beautiful seeing how you know states, even very conservative and religious states, are accepting that they changed their laws, and the court has had other decisions after that, one in which have ratified that you need to do it for reasons of equality and equity, which is beautiful.
19:27 – Diana (Host)
And that’s especially beautiful if you’re familiar with kind of the class structure and the socioeconomic structures that exist in Latin American countries. That is even more powerful. Yes, absolutely absolutely. Okay, so now let’s go to your homeland of Colombia.
19:46 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
My homeland made me suffer so much. So, with all these efforts, the movement in Colombia, the big coalition, the Scorchausafusta, decided to establish a legal claim before the constitutional court of Colombia, using a lot of the public data about a public health issue, but also using the criminalization angle and being able to prove that the people who are getting criminalized were younger women who were already in vulnerable situations. Like you didn’t see anybody, even middle class or upper class, getting criminalized because of abortion, so you were only seeing a certain group of people getting criminalized and they presented the claim before the constitutional court of Colombia. And then the pandemic happened, and then we all got in a standby because you could not protest. You could not. The judges were not even meeting in the same room, so there was like nothing you could do except just wait. Then, all of a sudden, the hearings were virtually and there was a moment in which I remember even suggesting we might have to withdraw the claim, like this is the worst moment to be talking about abortion in the middle of the pandemic. But the movement decided to keep going and we were like, okay, let’s just keep happening. And in a very surprising but also hard one, hard work, one vote.
Colombia decided to decriminalize abortion the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and after that have the exception system. So after 24 weeks there was one that was determined by ability is still. Women can have abortion either life is a risk, either health is a risk, or in cases of rape and sex and also even mandated the government to provide these services in public hospitals. To mandate insurance companies to pay for the abortion services is just really an accessible decision. We are still implementing it. It’s a complicated decision. It’s like a hundred pages long, but it’s absolutely beautiful. And even though courts should be independent, we know that the end of the day, they are also influenced by what is happening in society. So we work really hard in making sure that there was pressure on the streets, but also that there were op-eds and public opinion pieces about like what is, why is this important? And how the court had in their hands the opportunity to make history, and that’s what the court did in history.
22:24 – Diana (Host)
So can we talk a little bit about the makeup of the legislators and the judges who are making this decisions? Yeah, is it diverse by like women on the court, or is it all men making these decisions?
22:44 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
So in most of Latin America, we have had that system of quotas for very long time, in which we there is at least a mandate to have a certain number of spots in government, in some parts of government, in this legislative reserve by women, but actually in Colombia, two of the women who were in the court were the ones who voted no. So I do think that there is, even though I believe that gender inclusion of women and trans people is important into the compositions of government in order to make policy that does not guarantee that their views are going to be aligned with human rights values and with gender equality values. And some of these judges are also conservative judges, even the ones who decided yes. And I think that that’s when it comes, like when I compare it to the United States, and we just say, well, but the ex party has the majority right, and so the why we are wasting our time.
It’s like no, you need to fight for those votes one by one, and I think that you cannot just say it because you are conservative doesn’t mean that I should not be able to talk to you and explain to you. I might have to do it in different terms. I might have to try to find a different angle, to try to break, but at the end of the day, policymakers need to respond to the wills of their people and I mean we saw it with Kansas and the voting Kansas recently. Like, I think the will of the people is clear in where we stand and in the United States and there is no reason why policymakers, who are elected officials that need to represent the will of the people, should vote different than what their constituents are telling them to do.
24:45 – Diana (Host)
And that leads to my next question, which is what and you touched on this with what, everything you just said what can we learn here in the United States about the amazing work that’s?
24:58 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
happening in.
24:59 – Diana (Host)
25:01 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Well, the first part, it’s not hopeful. But then I want to talk about the hopeful. The first part is that this is going to get much worse before it’s going to get better, and we need to recognize that, because I was afraid you were gonna say that because earlier you said something.
25:21 – Diana (Host)
Actually, what you said was that there was a total abortion ban and legislators were able to see, and when you said that I thought it’s going to get. Does that mean exactly what you’re saying? Does that mean it’s going to get worse before it gets better?
25:37 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yes, it’s going to. Unfortunately, unless something happens and radically change the way that we are going, very likely it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But At the same time, I believe that. So we need to learn two things from Latin America. The first one is how to survive under conditions of restrictions, because we did it for many years. What is a harm reduction model? What is a health deception? How we can amplify access via certain public policies in very restricted environments. How we can amplify not only access to medication abortion, but also access to other clinics, and I think that there are different models of community service and community care that we implement in Latin America in order to survive. Then, how we can fight criminalization, because that is a real threat and that is something that I feel that many people still in the United States don’t believe it will happen. But let me tell you, it will happen, it’s already happening and it will get massive. But we are going to see a criminalization of women and doctors. I am already seeing cases of doctors in the middle of ERs calling their legal team to know the legal counsel of the hospital, to know if they can actually act or no. How is that? Isn’t that insane. The doctor in the middle of ER needs to say, oh, I cannot do anything until legal authorized me to do something. It’s just ridiculous and we have already seen that, so it’s going to be bad for a while. But if we know already it is going to be bad, we can prepare to fight it since now and try to reduce the negative impact it will have.
We need to pressure our lives, we need to pressure our enemies, we need to pressure everybody. We need to be able to talk to multiple audiences in different ways.
We should forget this idea of only speaking about abortion in the terms that we are comfortable, because this is not about us. This is about everybody. So we need to be able to compromise the language that we use sometimes. We need to center those who are affected the most. We need to be willing to fight not only in Washington or New York or in LA. We need to go where the fight is at. We need to go to Ohio, we need to go to Texas. We need to go to the states that are restricting the most and they are struggling the most, and we need to go and fight there and we need to mobilize people there. People need to understand how this is affecting their lives.
This is not a progressive thing of people on the East or West side. This is an American thing. This is about freedom. This is about being able to make decisions of what type of life you want to live. And we need to call out those who said that this is about reducing the number of abortions, because that is one of the biggest lies that exists. There is actually real policy to reduce the number of abortions Sexual education, which of course they oppose. Access to contraception, which of course they oppose. Over the counter access, contraception, then access to safe abortion and, of course, access to maternal policies, including a federal mandate parental leave, which they also oppose. The combination of those policies actually reduce the number of abortions and that has been proven all over the work because it concentrates, knowing the reduction, reducing the number of abortions, but reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, and that’s how we need to shift our focus. But you know, this is not about abortion. This is about control and oppression.
30:04 – Diana (Host)
And it isn’t ironic right? Our freedoms are literally being taken away by the people who say they want less government.
30:16 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we need to call them out on that. And it’s like wait a second. You know like I think they get away with some of that special with distractions. You know they talk about other issues because they don’t want to talk about this and we need to keep reminding them.
30:41 – Diana (Host)
So let’s talk a little bit about the work that you do at your organization, the Women’s Equality Center, because it’s primarily in Latin America but, like you said, you’re in New York and you see what’s happening on the ground here and you’re very vocal. I follow you on social and you make those connections very clear. So what does WEC do?
31:08 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Yeah, a lot of work. So a lot of what we do, and we have been doing, is supporting the organizations that are on the ground fighting. We try to serve as bridges, sometimes to tell the stories that are happening on the ground. Sometimes we get the visibility that they deserve. We try to support our partners in multiple ways, but mainly we try to connect those dots that sometimes don’t get connected and then what is happening is that we are in a very unique situation because half of our staff is in the United States and half of our staff is in Latin America, so we see a more complete picture of what is happening and where this is heading, which I think it allowed us to be in a very unique position. So right now we are starting to support groups in the United States in sharing lessons. So we are trying to put together convenings, events, even smaller conversations.
We also did a trip of US state legislators to Mexico for them to see different systems, different way of thinking, and I remember some of the state legislators. The biggest surprise was to see a public hospital actually provided an abortion. They were like how is that happening? And I remember one of the questions of the state legislatures. One of the doctors is like so how long does a woman has to wait in order to get an abortion? Like preparing to wait in periods, and the hospital person, the doctor, was like there is no way. We try to do it as fast as we can, like this is our goal is for this person to spend the last amount of time here, so taking a go back home to family, to work and to live, and they’re surprised by it.
So I think a lot of what we are doing is doing that sharing lessons, that connecting that we are known as different. Definitely, bringing the green wave in the United States has been part of what we have done. I have to say I have a thousand panellos in my home and I have had so many organizations from Latin America telling us how we can help, so they have sent us panellos, they have show up in solidarity. The Argentina did the protest in front of the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, like it just has been beautiful. So trying to connect those dots and showing a united front, I think it’s a lot of what we have been doing at WEC.
33:54 – Diana (Host)
That’s wonderful, thank you. Thank you. We need all the help we can get, and I just want to say so, as I’ve lived in Latin America, I’ve lived in Ecuador, my parents are from there and I’m Latina and I live here in the United States. New York is my home, I grew up here, and it’s almost a little bit comforting to see, because to see that we need to turn to Latin America to learn how to do something and how something is working, because a lot of times the narrative is the United States knows what they’re doing and Latin American countries do not.
And right now we’re in a moment where it’s like no, we have systems in place, we have public health. You know we are taking care of our people, we are listening to women and that is incredibly powerful. Yeah. I mean for so long. It was like. You know, the US is like the North Star, right Of course.
35:01 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
It’s. It’s strange, and I have to say that there is still a lot of people who who has a lot of a skepticism about, like, the narrative that is just happening. I mean, in the last three years, we’ve changed laws in three of the most Catholic countries in Latin America and the largest, two of them federal. They have very similar legal systems. Like I am an attorney in Colombia and in the United States, so the system, legal systems, are very similar in both countries in it and we still like we’re able to, to do it and and it wasn’t magic, it wasn’t like it’s not coincidence. This is the result of very specific strategy that we have been putting in place for so long, and I am absolutely certain that if we actually open our minds and our hearts to look at what is happening around the world, we will see that there are so many lessons to be learned, not only from Latin America, but also from Africa, also from Europe and also from other like places. They have been fighting this type of loss.
This is a new situation for the United States. For 50 years, they have had a law in place that protected women try to choose, and now they don’t. Well, the rest of the world. Well, they have this law in place that was grow, these things. And this is the moment in which we we in the United States need to be humble and say, okay, this is new to us, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, because some people already invented the wheel. We need to see what wheel is out there. What is what they need to use, how I adopted what it works here. No, everything works here, but you know. But there are many, many strategies that works here.
Poland women are fighting as well. I mean, ireland had an amazing fight also when it came to abortion and also to marriage equality. Latin America there are some African countries. They’re doing amazing progress. They are some Asian countries that are doing some amazing progress. So it’s like it has to be a humbling moment to recognize that there is other people doing amazing work and that we are in an unknown territory, and the smart thing to do is first look up and say, okay, there are other things outside of the country that might give us a guiding light towards how we can go back to protecting women’s right to choose.
37:34 – Diana (Host)
And before we wrap up, I want you shared something this week earlier this week about it was news out of Florida about a 12 year old who had to leave Florida and travel to you other states, because the states bordering Florida also have restrictions on abortion, and this 12 year old was a victim of incest.
And it occurred to me when you shared that that when we are sharing these stories, 12 year old needs to go outside her state to get an abortion because of incest, as a result of incest or rape. There’s never a follow up story or there’s never a story that talks about a man is being prosecuted or who is this person that inflicted this harm on the 12 year old. It seems to me that we’ve placed so much emphasis on the abortion part of it, or on the you know, the pro life, life in the womb, etc. Etc. But we never see the story about the man who has impregnated this 12 year old child. So I just wanted to get your take on that because I mean, it’s clearly. I think there’s a lot of like misogyny and you know, yeah, but also it’s also the media. Why is the media not calling this out, I feel like? So I just wanted to get your thoughts on, like how we change that narrative too.
39:08 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
I mean, I’m just going to try to summarize this with one example. But you remember Sica? When there was a whole thing about Sica and, like you know the consequences of pregnancy, the governments of a few countries came out and say women don’t get pregnant Because Sica can have consequences of it. As if we get pregnant and we’re all, and if it was something that we just like, sit down and say, hey, I want to be pregnant now, right, and I think that that is exactly the same thing of the great 12 year old there.
All our attention around a pregnancy is always in women’s and the people pregnant back. We never talk about the responsibility of many into this process, never either in wanted one wanted pregnancies. And of course, if we don’t talk it, even in wanted pregnancies, of course we are going to completely ignore the rapist in this situation, because at the end of the day, we are bearing all the attention good and bad, everything and that doesn’t change, even in cases of rape. It’s absolutely scary and we have seen these attempts even in states like Texas, where they are considering punishing abortion for longer that they will punish in somebody for raping somebody and they literally believe that, and we have heard those aspecies, that if women get rape and they get pregnant, it’s because they wanted to get pregnant. How many times we have heard those awful things? We still don’t realize, even though we know the biology, that there are two people involved in actually pregnancy. It’s still all in us and it is so much a loss, so much better awful, to see how it has an impact in our lives.
So, yes, in the case of the girl, we see all the efforts of prosecutors and attorney generals to try to make sure that the girls don’t have the abortion that they need in the case of a 12-year-old, to survive, because we know the pregnancy under 15 is a very high risk pregnancy because the bodies of the girls are not meant to be mothers.
But they’re just going to see the tension from attorney generals and prosecutors coming out and saying, oh, I am going to do everything to find these rapists and put them behind prison and do everything they want. No, this is all concentrated now, but we also see it in wanted pregnancies and it’s like this idea that even in many states, the only ones who need to bear emotionally, physically and a mental weight of pregnancy is us, the ones who are pregnant, and for many years we talk about maternal leave because we didn’t even recognize that father had a role in that leave. Now we are progressing a little bit, but we are not progressing because we believe that the parents should be as involved. Some of those policies have been changed because of LGBTQ people advocacy around it, but we need to talk about parenting as something that happens between at least two people involved in pregnancy when they choose to be involved.
42:57 – Diana (Host)
So how do we change that narrative?
43:00 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
I think the part of it starts by us calling it out, as you just did. Every time that we see a pregnant girl, we need to call out OK, what is the rapist? Why are we focusing so much on the girl and we are now trying to find the rapist in this situation? We need to call out media. We need to tell more dose stories, and I also think that we and I mean people like you and me there are impositions where we might be in contact with the media and we are also open about our families. We need to tell the stories of the roles that that plays also in our upbringing of children, how they are involved and how they are engaged. And men need to please step up and talk about it.
Abortion is an issue. Men have benefit from abortion and very controlled for years. If you have had unprotected sex, if you’re a man and you have had unprotected sex at one point in your life, you benefited from birth control or you benefited from an abortion, even if you don’t know it. So you need to step up and talk about it and show up. This is an issue that affects you. If you’re able to have the life that you want right now, it’s because somebody to control over that sexuality, right. So that’s just how it works. Like it’s just how it works. So I think that combination of calling out the media, calling out the narratives, but as to churn the stories when we have good partners who are taking actually responsibility of the parent food, and also men speaking up and men calling out the rapists as well I think that this is also the case in Portem.
45:02 – Diana (Host)
Oof, all right. So last question. If I were to say reproductive rights is one of the top issues of the midterms that are around the corner, would you agree?
45:13 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
100%. I am very optimistic in terms of seeing the issue. I don’t know if that’s going to necessarily translate into the votes that we needed to translate, but I am optimistic that people are showing up, that women are registering in massive numbers. I am optimistic. This is the first time that it’s a top Latino issue, which is something that has never happened before, like when you see all the polling for Latinos. For the first time, we are caring about this issue. Usually there are other issues, and that gives me hope because that means people are understanding what is happening and the people are understanding this is about controlling and oppression. Now we just need to show up. We just need to show up on votes. It’s the only way that we can express right now how we feel about it, and that will be sending a very important and clear message.
46:13 – Diana (Host)
And that was the wrap up question what keeps you hopeful, Paula?
46:18 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Wow. The people on the ground fighting, those who don’t never give up. They are breaking the stories of resilience. The hardest fights and people are still fighting is what gives me hope. That’s what gives me hope. The women in El Salvador who spent 10 years in prison for a miscarriage and then they came out and become warriors and they become human rights defenders and they say we need to keep fighting. Those stories give me hope.
46:50 – Diana (Host)
Paula, thank you so much for being with me today. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you and learn more about La Maria Verde. I’m so excited, so much to learn from what our sisters are doing in Latin America. Tell us where we can find you online, because you share great insight and great content and keep us informed. Yeah.
47:10 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Thank you so much for this conversation. Thank you for creating a podcast that talks about violence and politics, because I think this is amazing and so crucial and not important. And you can follow me at pauavilg, both on Twitter and Instagram, and that’s where usually I put most of the updates of everything that we are doing.
47:35 – Diana (Host)
Thank you so much, everyone, for tuning into this episode of Parenting and Politics. Share with your friends, Make sure you’re subscribed, leave a review, follow us on Instagram, if you’re not already doing so, of Parenting and Politics. Until next time, don’t forget hope is our superpower. Ciao.
47:53 – Paula Avila Guillén (Guest)
Ciao Gracias.


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If you like this episode, check out:

Ep. 54: Latinas’ Access to Reproductive Care with Lupe Rodriguez

Ep. 53: The Abortion Rights Victory in Kansas with Kansas Abortion Fund

Ep. 50: God, Abortions and Kids with Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft