Director, Ipas Central America and Mexico: María Antonieta Alcalde

In Central America, Ipas works in one of the most restrictive legal environments for abortion in the world. Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador have complete abortion bans; in El Salvador, women are imprisoned for suspected abortions; and in Guatemala and Panama, abortion is permitted only in limited circumstances. A high rate of sexual violence in these countries contributes to a high rate of unwanted pregnancy, thereby forcing women and girls to either carry pregnancies against their will or else seek clandestine and often unsafe abortions that put their health and lives at risk.

Ipas has been working with partners across the region since the late 1980s to make safe, high-quality sexual and reproductive health care more widely available. We also work to position abortion as a human rights issue and show how restrictive abortion laws violate international treaties ratified by Central American countries. By incorporating a human rights perspective into university-level health sciences curricula, Ipas and key partners aim to build a new generation of health-care providers who are advocates for sexual and reproductive rights. Since Nicaragua’s abortion ban was enacted in 2006, Ipas has collaborated with partners to build a movement in support of repealing the ban. Similarly, Ipas collaborates with partners in El Salvador to support the growing movement for legal abortion there, and supports programs and organizations in Guatemala, Panama and additional countries with efforts to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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