Strategic litigation for abortion rights in Latin America

Congratulations to Dr. Alba M. Ruibal, a researcher with Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Conicet) who is currently working on a project about federalism and feminist legal mobilization at the subnational level in Argentina, including litigation for abortion rights.  We appreciate her excellent article, recently published in English:

Social movements and constitutional politics in Latin America: reconfiguring alliances, framings and legal opportunities in the judicialisation of abortion rights in Brazil,Contemporary Social Science 10.4(2015): 375-385,  Publication access via academic librariesOpen access to submitted text.

Abstract:  One of the main innovations in the interaction between social movements and the state in Latin America since the democratisation processes is the use of courts as venues for social change and the intervention of social actors in constitutional politics. Drawing from the empirical study of the process of strategic litigation for abortion rights in Brazil, this paper aims to show what type of changes can take place when social actors set out to pursue a legal strategy on a highly controversial matter, and in a transitional context, where courts are in the midst of a redefinition of their institutional role in the political system, and movements have not yet been central actors in judicialisation processes. The study highlights how feminist organisations adapted their framing of the abortion issue and developed new alliances with legal actors in order to pursue a rights strategy and to interact with the constitutional court. It also points out how, when dealing with the abortion controversy, the Brazilian constitutional court (Supremo Tribunal Federal) expanded the legal opportunity for the participation of civil society actors and, in its 2012 decision that liberalised the abortion law, acknowledged the legal arguments advanced by social actors in this field.   Published edition, online via academic librariesOpen access to submitted text.     More about the author. 

Several of Dr. Ruibal’s earlier publications on abortion law strategy in Latin America are available online through SSRN:

“Reform and Backlash in Mexico’s Abortion Law: Political and Legal Opportunities for Mobilization and Countermobilization,”(2014)  English abstract and conference  paper.  
—See also:
Feminism, Religion and Democracy in the Process of Abortion Legalization in Mexico City (2012)  Spanish article online, with abstracts in Spanish and English.

“Movement and Counter-Movement: A History of Abortion Law Reform and the Backlash in Colombia 2006-2014” English article and abstract online.

[Legal Mobilization and Counter-Mobilization. Proposal for Its Analysis in Latin America] (2015)  Spanish article online with abstracts in Spanish and English.

[Feminism Counters Religious Fundamentalisms: Mobilization and Counter-Mobilization in the Field of Reproductive Rights in Latin America](2014) focusing on the cases of Brasil, Colombia and Mexico  Portuguese article, and abstracts in Portuguese, Spanish and English.   Spanish translation of article.

Regarding the Brazilian decision of 2012, mentioned in Dr. Ruibal’s abstract, see also: Luís Roberto Barroso, “Bringing Abortion into the Brazilian Public Debate: Legal Strategies for Anencephalic Pregnancy,” chapter 12 in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (U Penn Press, 2014)  258-78.  English edition.   Spanish paperback from FCE, 2016.
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