Things That Matter

Honduras Moves To Enshrine Bans On Abortion And Marriage Equality In The Constitution

Honduras already has one of the world’s strictest bans on abortion. It’s completely banned in all circumstances, including even in cases of rape and incest, and when the person’s life and the health are in danger. The country also has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, including recognizing those that were performed abroad.

So, why is the country moving to further limit access to abortion and marriage equality?

The Honduran Congress has voted to make it impossible to legalize abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the first round of voting, the country’s congress had voted to move forward on complete and total constitutional bans against abortion and marriage equality. But lawmakers are taking it a step further, by increasing the votes needed to undo their constitutional amendments in the future.

One lawmaker referred to the legislation as a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

However, the amendments require a second reading/vote and activists across the country (and world) are mobilizing to help stop these amendments from being voted in. But they face an uphill battle, as the legislation has overwhelming support within Congress and from the country’s staunchly conservative president.

Honduras already has among the world’s strictest bans on abortion.

Abortion in Honduras is already illegal in all circumstances. The country’s criminal code imposes prison sentences of up to six years on people who undergo abortions and medical professionals who provide them. The government also bans emergency contraception, or “the morning after pill,” which can prevent pregnancy after rape, unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure.

“Honduras’ draconian legislation already bans abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, when the person’s life and the health are in danger, and when the fetus will not survive outside the womb,” said Ximena Casas, Americas women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This decree will make it virtually impossible to carry out the recommendations from multiple international human rights bodies to end this violation of reproductive rights.”

Honduras also already has a strict ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2005 constitutional amendment prohibits recognizing marriage between people of the same sex, including same-sex marriages contracted in other countries. Honduras also bans adoption by same-sex couples.

“By seeking to permanently and comprehensively block any possibility of accessing marriage for same-sex couples, the Honduran Congress is entrenching state-sponsored homophobia,” said Cristian González Cabrera, Americas lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“In a country where LGBT people already experience high levels of violence and discrimination, this effort to amend the constitution is sending the message that these people may be further stigmatized.”

Congress is also making it harder for future lawmakers to undo their constitutional amendments.

Not only was it not enough to double down on these draconian bans on abortion and marriage equality, lawmakers are moving to increase the threshold of votes to undo their bans.

Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body. The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favor, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

Many see the constitutional amendment as a response to Argentina’s move to legalize abortion last month.

It was just last month that Argentina voted in favor of legalizing access to abortion. The South American nation became the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.

For years, abortion has also been illegal in Argentina. The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions. 

The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration. The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

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They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

It was no secret that if the Republican Party and Donald Trump got their way with the Supreme Court, that women’s health and reproductive rights would be under attack. Well, Trump installed his new justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to the court in November and she’s just issued her first opinion in a case related to access to abortion.

Amy Coney Barrett handed a victory to the White House and Conservatives regarding abortion.

Since taking her seat on the Supreme Court in November, Justice Coney Barretts’ opinions have escaped much scrutiny. However, her latest opinion in an abortion-related case is drawing scrutiny from both the left and the right for clues of how she might rule in the future.

The decision, issued despite objection from the court’s more liberal judges, reinstates a requirement for patients to pick up the drug, mifepristone, in person. Three lower courts had blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s in-person pick-up requirement for mifepristone during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the risks of contracting COVID-19 at a doctor’s office or a hospital.

Julia Kaye, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, called the court’s decision “chilling” and one that “needlessly” endangers “even more people during this dark pandemic winter.”

In an interview with NPR, she added that people of color, like Black and Latinx patients, are at particular risk for health risks posed by COVID-19. Requiring them to go to a doctor’s office in person to pick up the drug threatens the health and lives of those patients, she said.

It’s the first abortion-related decision since last year’s swearing in of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose presence on the high court bench ensured a new conservative majority. Abortion-rights advocates have been fearful of what a conservative majority could do to chip away at legal protections for abortion.

On the surface, this week’s abortion ruling is fairly minor but it has many women worried.

Credit: Phil Walter / Getty Images

In its ruling, the Court didn’t release a majority opinion, which means that the case doesn’t explicitly change existing legal doctrine. And the case concerns a policy that the Biden administration could likely reverse after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

But, when you read between the lines, the case – FDA v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – warns of a dark future for abortion rights and women’s health.

The premise of pro-abortion rights decisions like Roe v. Wade (1973) is that the Constitution provides special protection to the right to an abortion that it doesn’t provide to other elective medical procedures. Yet, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor explains in dissent, American College effectively rules that a commonly used abortion drug may be regulated more harshly than any other legal medication.

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