A mother with her 2-day-old baby, Marissa, on a migrant bus back to Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico. Image: FOX 17/Manuel Berti
A surge in new mothers under age 18 in Paraguay, including at least 1,000 under age 14, may be the unintended consequence of a new law that will make many more Paraguayans have access to abortion services, Amnesty International announced on Tuesday.
“A massive number of undocumented teenagers have turned up at clinics since Paraguay’s government decriminalized abortion in January,” Amnesty said in a statement.
The announcement comes days after the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly adopted a resolution supporting efforts to decriminalize abortion in the North African country. The resolution, adopted with 221 of 287 votes in favor, was sponsored by the presidents of Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Croatia. It is the result of calls for decriminalization by members of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Conversely, many Paraguayans are celebrating the new law. The Council of Europe resolution noted that Paraguay has the highest abortion rate in the world, and Amnesty said that between 2016 and 2019 more than 10,000 Paraguayans between the ages of 15 and 17 will give birth. Of the total estimated 130,000 Paraguayans in this age group who have been unable to obtain abortions in the past year, 70,000 will have pregnancies that would likely result in abortions or are likely to develop into abortions.