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Ahead of a debate in the Honduran congress today over the country’s criminalization of abortion, Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said:

“By criminalizing abortion, the Honduran Penal Code is incompatible with human rights standards and must be modified without delay.”

“Preventing women from exercising their human rights by stopping them from being able to make decisions over their own bodies only puts their health and lives in danger.”

As part of a wider debate on the country’s Penal Code, the Honduran Congress will debate proposed changes that would allow for abortions when the health of the pregnant woman is at risk, when the pregnancy was the result of rape and in cases of foetal impairment that is incompatible with life.

In a report last year, Amnesty International documented many abuses – some of which may amount to torture — faced by women across the Americas as a consequence of the criminalization of abortion services in some countries in the region.

Abortion is banned without exception in seven countries in the Americas – Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname – even when the health or life of a woman or girl is at risk.

However, Congresses in Chile, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic are currently debating possible changes to their legislation to allow for safe abortions in some circumstances.

Medical associations and United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization have supported calls for the decriminalization of abortion. They have noted that criminalizing abortion does not reduce the number of abortions but instead leads women and girls to resort to unsafe and clandestine abortions, putting their health and lives at risk.