The online organizing website Avaaz.org alerts readers that the Honduran authorities are considering a law that would mandate imprisonment of teenage women for using the so-called “morning-after” emergency contraceptive pill — as well as doctors who provide the medicine. An Avaaz petition said:
Honduras is just days away from approving an extremist law that would put teenagers in prison for using the morning-after pill, even if they’ve just been raped. …
Some Congress members agree that this law — which would also jail doctors or anyone who sells the pill — is excessive, but they are bowing to the powerful religious lobby that wrongly claims the morning-after pill constitutes an abortion. Only the head of the Congress, who wants to run for the Presidency and cares about his reputation abroad, can stop this.
Avaaz is asking Congress President Juan Orlando Hernández to “not to criminalize contraception”:
Your proposed law 54 would make Honduras the only country in the world to punish the use or sale of the morning-after pill with jail sentences of 3-10 years. We urge you to reject this extremist law and respect women’s rights, or risk condemnation both in Latin America and across the world
A ban on the morning-after pill was originally passed in 2009, at the behest of powerful religious lobby groups. That law was upheld by the Honduran Supreme Court that year. “The measures Avaaz outlines in its email would further toughen the law, extending it to teenagers and rape victims.” reported World News Australia.
The blogosphere in the U.S., among global health news outlets and progressive sites, lit up with outrage. “There is terrible legislation being considered in Honduras,” wrote Mark Leon Goldberg at Healthy Lives. Eric Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money compared the move to the GOP in America, noting that Honduras also has a prison overcrowding problem.
On Avaaz’s website, 601,710 people have signed the petition, as of publication.