On International Women's Day 2022, Guatemala's Congress passed a law which triples the prison sentences for women seeking abortion care, prohibits same-sex marriage and further bans the teaching of comprehensive sexuality education and sexual diversity in schools, saying that teaching "anything other than heterosexuality is normal" is against the law.
The "Life and Family Protection Law" was passed by an overwhelming majority of 160 - 8 in the conservative-led Congress, but still needs to be signed by Guatemala's president, Alejandro Giammattei, in order to come into force.
Under the new law, women who "have induced their own abortion or given their consent to another person to carry it out" will face a minimum of five years in jail, but the sentences could reach a maximum of 25 years. Abortion is illegal in Guatemala except in cases where the woman's life is at risk.
This law is the latest of a series of laws to attack human rights across the country, including gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The initiative goes against human rights agreements, especially for women and LGBTI+ people and condemns and denies the diversity of families including mono-parental homes.
Eugenia Lopez Uribe, IPPF's Regional Director for Americas and the Caribbean Region, said:
"It is disturbing that on International Women's Day 2022, the Guatemalan Congress passed a law that completely violates the human, sexual and reproductive rights of women, girls and marginalized people.
"While countries across Latin America were celebrating the lives and rights of women, Guatemala has chosen to criminalize those making the best decision for themselves and their families, while also risking imprisoning vulnerable women and girls who have experienced sexual violence or suffered pregnancy loss. By severely limiting access to safe and post-abortion care, the law will undoubtedly lead to an increase in unsafe abortions and a decrease in prenatal care, resulting in life-long disabilities for some women and a rise in maternal deaths.
"At the same time, by prohibiting same-sex marriage, limiting comprehensive sexuality education and enabling the discrimination of sexual diversity, the Guatemalan government is creating a society that fosters miseducation, stigma, intolerance and homophobia and fuelling the persecution of LGBTI and non-binary people.
"IPPF strongly condemns the passing of this archaic law and demands that the Guatemalan government fulfils international human rights agreements. We stand in solidarity with affected people across Guatemala and the organizations working tirelessly to ensure that all people have the freedom to make their own choices."