Honduras will authorize the use of the morning-after pill for rape victims after more than a decade of total restrictions, the country’s health minister announced late on Monday, though a complete ban on abortion continues.
The heavily Catholic Central American nation introduced an absolute ban on the use and sale of the morning-after pill in 2009, but had hinted at softening its stance in extreme cases for several years.
The only Latin American nation currently with an all-out ban on the morning-after pill, Honduras also punishes women who have abortions with up to six years in prison, including in cases of rape or incest.
“We are going to make the pill available for rape victims because it is not a contraceptive method,” Health Minister Jose Matheu said during an event with women’s organizations on Monday night. “We are waiting for it to come out of the regulations unit to sign it off.”
It remains unclear how health authorities would verify rape allegations or distribute the pill.
Honduras will authorize the use of the morning-after pill for rape victims after more than a decade of total restrictions. Pictured: Plan B One-Step, an emergency contraceptive commonly referred to as the morning after pill. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Feminist organizations say the latest shift in policy doesn’t go nearly far enough to deal with unwanted pregnancies, especially in a country with the second highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Latin America, according to United Nations data.
“This announcement is insufficient,” said Maria Elena Mendez, head of the Honduran Women’s Rights Center. “Other girls who get pregnant also face discrimination and cannot continue with work and studies, entering into a circle of marginalization and misery.”
Women’s and human rights groups continue to demand the decriminalization of abortion in Honduras.
Around 50,000 to 80,000 back-street abortions occur each year in Honduras, local reproductive rights groups estimated in 2019.