Abortion in Guatemala

Abortion in Guatemala is highly restricted; it's only legal in cases where the pregnant person's life is at risk. A government decision in 2022 increased the penalties for terminating a pregnancy to up to five years in prison.
Number of abortion in Guatemala and complications of abortions

What does the law say in Guatemala?     

Abortion Rights in Guatemala


“Therapeutic abortion- An abortion practiced by a physician, with the consent of the woman after a favorable diagnosis by at least one other physician, is not punishable if it was performed without the intention of directly procuring the death of the product of conception and for the sole purpose of avoiding a duly established danger to the life of the mother, after all scientific and technical means have been exhausted.”

PENAL CODE OF GUATEMALA ART. 137

In Guatemala, the only legal ground for terminating a pregnancy is when the pregnant person’s life is in danger, which is called therapeutic abortion [1].  

The government of President Alejandro Giammattei has shown its position against abortion rights. During his administration in 2022, Guatemala was proclaimed the “Pro-Life Capital of Iberoamerica”, and prison sentences for abortion were increased from 1 to 3 years to up to 5 years [1][2].

How many abortions are performed in Guatemala?

Data and numbers of abortions in Guatemala

Guttmacher Institute estimates, in 2006, that 65,000 abortions are performed in Guatemala each year, and 21,600 people are hospitalized as a result of abortion-related complications [3].

Abortion per year in Guatemala

What do people in Guatemala believe?  

Opinion on abortion in Guatemala

Abortion seekers in Guatemala

Due to the stigma and legal restrictions associated with abortion in Guatemala, there is no reliable and up-to-date information on the characteristics of those who seek legal abortions.

A study conducted in 1993-1994 has information on the profile of people who have abortions in the country. Despite being driven more than two decades ago, the study remains the only data source on the subject [4]. 

What abortion services are available in Guatemala? 

Abortion Methods

LEGAL METHODS AVAILABLE
OTHER METHODS

Abortion with Misoprostol

In Guatemala, access to abortion with pills is allowed under medical prescription, and the value of Misoprostol varies from $ 7.75 to $ 9.74 USD per pill, according to information from 2019 [5]. 

In-clinic abortions

The procedure of manual vacuum aspiration abortions (MVA) is available in Guatemala [9].

Fundación ESAR

Fundación ESAR accompany and train health professionals, so pregnant people can access comprehensive and quality health care services.

Visit ESAR Website

Legal restrictions on abortion create obstacles to accessing safe abortion methods. However, some organizations can provide information and accompany people through the process.

Abortion with pills and telemedicine

M de Mujer

M de Mujer is a non-profit organization that accompanies and provides information about sexual and reproductive health free of charge. They work hand in hand with safe2choose.

Women on Waves

Women on Waves a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s human rights; its mission is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions worldwide. Women on Waves launched a hotline for people who need or want information on how to use Misoprostol.

Which abortion pills are available in Guatemala?

  • ACE Miso – 200 mgc
  • Cytotec – 200 mgc

How does the context affect abortion in Guatemala?              

Context and abortion

Anti-abortion law

On International Women’s Day 2022, the Guatemalan Congress stiffened prison sentences for abortion seekers. Although abortion is legal if the life of the pregnant person is in danger, the law established 1 to 3 years in prison for people who get an abortion, now modified with penalties of up to 5 to 10 years in prison. Human rights organizations are concerned about this decision since it exacerbates the stigmatization and violence against the rights of Guatemalans [6]. 

Knowledge and attitudes toward medical abortion in Guatemala

Medical knowledge about abortion in Guatemala

In Guatemala, stigma, and obstacles to abortion also arise from obstetrician-gynecologists since many are not familiar with the correct methods of abortion with pills, and some are not familiar with the law [7].

How did the pandemic influence abortion in Guatemala?

Impact of COVID-19

forced pregnancies in Guatemala

There’s no information regarding how many abortions were performed before, during, and after the pandemic; this could potentially increase rights violations. Guatemala is one of the countries in Latin America with the highest adolescent fertility rates, and there is a normalized epidemic of forced pregnancies. The abortion law is a factor that affects directly because, in Guatemala, the right to abortion for rape is still not legal [8].

What is the data gap in Guatemala?

What we don’t know

Although the health system has some data, NGOs provide more critical information. However, to draw a complete picture of the abortion situation in Guatemala, studies would require answering the following questions:

How many people are having abortions?
How many people are having unsafe abortions?
How many girls are forced to continue an at-risk pregnancy despite the law?
How many queer people are having abortions?
How many people know the abortion law?
What is the attitude of the population towards abortion laws in Guatemala?
How many abortions were performed before, during and after the pandemic?

*This page presents abortion data only for women and girls since the information available is usually not separated by gender. However, AbortionData.org acknowledges this limitation.

 Where did we get the information?

Sources

[1] La MalaFe (2022) “¿Qué lecciones y retos quedan del avance de la marea verde en Latinoamérica?” Available at: https://lamalafe.lat/que-lecciones-y-retos-quedan-del-avance-de-la-marea-verde-en-latinoamerica/

[2] Bazán, C. (2022). Guatemala aprueba una ley contra el aborto y la declaran «Capital Provida». EFEMINISTA. https://efeminista.com/guatemala-ley-aborto-provida/

[3] Induced Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy in Guatemala. (2022). Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/ipsrh/2006/09/induced-abortion-and-unintended-pregnancy-guatemala 

[4] Prada, E., Remez, L., Kestler, E., Sáenz, S., Singh, S. & Bankole, A. (2006). Embarazo no planeado y aborto inseguro en Guatemala. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/GuatemalaUPIAsp.pdf

[5] Safe 2 Choose. Abortion in Guatemala | Important facts about abortions. (s. f.). https://safe2choose.org/abortion-information/countries/guatemala

[6] Bazán, C. (2022b, marzo 10). Guatemala aprueba una ley contra el aborto y la declaran «Capital Provida». EFEMINISTA. https://efeminista.com/guatemala-ley-aborto-provida/

[7] Kestler, E. (2011). Obstetrician–gynecologists’ knowledge of and attitudes toward medical abortion in Guatemala. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.09.015

[8] SWI. (2022).Embarazos forzados de niñas y jóvenes, una epidemia normalizada en Guatemala. https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/guatemala-embarazos–reportaje-_embarazos-forzados-de-ni%C3%B1as-y-j%C3%B3venes–una-epidemia-normalizada-en-guatemala/47548934

[9] Kestler, E., Morales, E., & González, M. (2019). Atención post aborto en el primer nivel de referencia de salud en Guatemala.

AbortionData.org

AbortionData.org

AbortionData.org is a platform to eliminate misinformation, myths, and fears surrounding abortion in the world by producing, sharing, and making accessible accurate information about abortion.

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