Abortion Access, Informal Rights, and Reform in Latin America


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




What is the role of direct action in social movements, and how can it contribute to policy reform? This project explores the role of informal abortion provision, as a form of direct action, in the legalization of abortion in Latin America. Feminist activists in Argentina and Colombia made abortion safe and accessible via underground pill networks and legal mobilization. In tolerating this practice, state actors recognized an informal right. Ultimately, this project proposes that direct action and informal rights can produce changes in social norms not only among the public but also within elite networks of medical, legal, and policy professionals---which pave the way for formal legalization. Using surveys, interviews, and focus groups, this research seeks to explore how activists can change practice and knowledge via direct action, and thereby contribute to formal policy and legal changes.