Religious intolerance imposed on the majority resembles another form of fascism.

The sentencing of a Salvadoran woman to 30 years in prison for a miscarriage explicitly reveals the profound contempt of a state – under a dictatorial regime – for the rights of a majority of its population. The very fact of marking an administration with the stamp of extreme authoritarianism, persecuting young people and punishing women, sends a dangerous signal to other Latin American nations that follow this trend.

In our continent, the issue of abortion has been gaining ground on the agenda as a way of rescuing women’s rights, traditionally subjected to the macho and intolerant imposition of ecclesiastical and legislative institutions. But, above all, as an attempt to place the issue on the public health agenda in countries where there is supposedly a separation between church and state. However, the inquisitorial power of these sectors has permeated into other instances and is leaving its mark in a blind debate, according to which no woman is the owner of her life or her body.

The bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Felipe Arizmendi, stated in an official document: “It is an aberration and culpable ignorance to affirm that a woman is the owner of her body and that she can get rid of the foetus she carries in her womb. The foetus is not responsible for the slips of the mother”. In doing so, Bishop Arizmendi automatically assumes several concepts as valid and irrefutable. The first is that the woman is not the owner of her body. In this way, he legitimises any policy of subjugating women as subjects of society to a subordinate role, denying them in principle their right to free will and the enjoyment of all the rights inherent to human beings without distinction of sex, race or social status, and that pregnancy is the result of a “slip of the tongue”.

The debate on the decriminalisation of abortion, therefore, polarises societies through the power emanating from the pulpits, demonstrating a close link between religious doctrines and the laws that govern societies from their constitutional texts. In this way, the subordinate status of women as reproductive entities, with no greater rights over their own existence as human beings, is being established in a clear-cut manner.

One of the pretexts for condemning abortion is to describe it as an “easy solution”, to eliminate the results of a life of excesses, or as a method of birth control, passing a convenient draft through the scandalous figures of paedophilia, sexual violations of girls, adolescents and women, victims of trafficking and other forms of violence. Nor does the scandalous figure of unsafe abortions in Latin America, which according to the WHO reaches 3,700,000 every year, seem to have a place in the reflections of the most conservative sectors.

The denial of women’s right to control their own bodies is an old issue with an enormous social impact. Some of its most revealing chapters were the trials on compulsory reproduction for the purpose of “perfecting” the race, perpetrated against innocent victims during the Nazi regime in Germany. But they are not the only ones. The radical and absolute stance against the practice of abortion – without distinction of grounds – in some of our states is not far removed from that imposition, also dictated under the protection of the law.

The separation between Church and State is a fundamental condition for democracy. @carvasar

Source photo El Mostrador