Reproductive Rights in Latin America: A Case Study of Guatemala and Nicaragua

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Abstract

A lack of access to contraceptives and legal abortion for women throughout the nations of Nicaragua and Guatemala creates critical health care problems. Moreover, rural and underprivileged women in Guatemala and Nicaragua are facing greater limitations to birth control access, demonstrating a classist aspect in the global struggle for female reproductive rights. Although some efforts have been made over the past half-century to initiate a dialogue on the failure of medical care in these nations to adequately address issues of maternal mortality and reproductive rights, the women’s reproductive health movements of Nicaragua and Guatemala have struggled to reach an effective solution to this problem. As a result, women of Nicaragua and Guatemala are falling below the goals of organizations such as Planned Parenthood and UNFPA to ensure universal access to birth control and a subsequent reduction in each nation’s maternal mortality rate. This paper compares the varied successes of women’s rights movements in Guatemala and Nicaragua in expanding access to reproductive healthcare as well as overcoming afflictive social obstacles, such as cultural condemnation of contraceptive use and the influence of the Catholic church on society’s moral standards. Further, the research examines the inequality of care provided for women living in urban and rural areas and the incommensurate difficulties faced by women of different ethnicities and religions when attempting to access reproductive health care.

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Katherine Bogan

Katherine Bogan

Katherine Bogen '15 studies Political Science, English, with a concentration in Latin American and Latino Studies. She uses these three disciplines to examine global issues. Katherine completed her Honors thesis on women’s reproductive health, primarily focusing on the e ect of authoritarian regimes and democratic transition movements in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Katherine has done additional research on the use of rape and sexual violence as a tactic of war, and independent research on gender and race in mentoring relationships in university and business settings. After Clark, Katherine hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Policy or Public Health to contribute to her understanding of feminist social issues, women’s rights, reproductive healthcare, and international reproductive health policy.