Zúñiga-Fajuri, Alejandra. “Human Rights and the Right to Abortion in Latin America.” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 19 (2014): 841-846.


Thousands of  abortion supporters march in Buenos Aires, Argentina after the government fails to pass legislation legalizing abortion. The woman’s poster translates to “Leave the patriarchy out of our ovaries.” In her abdomen the words read, “In here, the state doesn’t decide” implying that the state doesn’t decide whether a women wants an abortion or not.


In this article, Alejandra Zúñiga-Fajuri argues that there is a disconnect between how we view pregnant women and human rights, especially in Latin America. That once women become pregnant, they lose their human rights and are forced to surrender those rights based on the mere circumstance that they are pregnant. Zúñiga advocates for human rights to include abortion rights while also presenting her interpretation of the theory of human rights.

She indicates how criminalized abortion laws set in countries such as Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras, Republica Dominicana, and El Salvador pose a great risk not only to the woman’s life but also towards her human rights. In her findings, criminalized abortion is ineffective because it fails to lower the number of abortions and often leads to more deaths due to women resorting to illegal procedures.

Zúñiga argues for her interpretation of the theory of human rights that views human rights as rights granting entitlement which could only be removed if it is to protect others. Therefore, women’s human rights should not be negated due to consequential interest such as the church moral stance which is very prominent in Latin America. However, this brings an important debate of whether an embryo has rights and to what extent these rights are a legal interest. Thus, determining when the fetus acquires protection rights and therefore would be able to override a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy.

The viability approach has different governments, scientist, and scholars debating. For the most part, Zúñiga agrees that perhaps abortion could be limited when fetuses began sharing human features such as that of perception and pain given that it aligns with her theory of human rights. Ultimately, Zúñiga believes that abortion is a multi-angled topic that embodies constitutional recognition of rights, such as women’s reproductive rights, and laws on the status of the embryo and until all of these angles are acknowledge the conversation for women’s abortion will continue to be misinterpreted.

Alejandra Zúñiga-Fajuri presents her finding in a very cohesive manner despite her varied resources from fetus pain perception to Rawls theory. Zúñiga’s article is very specific at the beginning and becomes broader towards the end focusing what encompasses abortion. One of the strengths was definitely incorporating her thought process and anticipating answers to counterarguments. Zúñiga is a very well rounded individual acquiring her law degree from the Diego Portales University, Doctorate from the Autonomous University of Madrid, and is an academic for The University of Valparaíso. Her work has often involved the law specifically in human rights. It is admirable to see a woman of color fighting for justice given that many are not often discovered or recognized. I believe her audience is those opposed to abortion because her argumentation comes from a logical perspective rather than to persuade through morality which can be difficult for those who have grounded morals.

Moving forward, I believe this article will be helpful for the dossier because it explores a different topic such as abortion that is not often interpreted as human rights. This might be a potential topic for the dossier since abortion rights seem to be a common issue in most Latin American countries.

I chose this image from the article Diario Jornada which describes a march in Argentina advocating for women’s rights. Although my annotated bibliography did not mention Argentina, the movement in Argentina has inspired other Latin American countries to march and continue the fight. Also, this picture shows the symbol of the green handkerchief which has been used in many Latin American countries to represent women human rights to reproductive autonomy.

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