The emergency contraceptive pill is now legal again in Honduras after a 13-year prohibition was lifted by President Xiomara Castro.
The nation’s first female president declared that she had changed the law via executive order in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8.
The morning after pill was “part of women’s reproductive rights, and not abortive,” she claimed on social media.
The stringent regulations governing reproductive rights in Honduras have been promised to be relaxed by President Castro, who assumed office in 2022.
According to a tweet from President Castro, March 8 is a day to remember women’s historic resistance. “I am approving the Executive Order requiring the morning-after pill to be used by everyone.”
The World Health Organization declared it to be a legal exercise of women’s reproductive rights and not an abortion, she continued.
Following a coup in 2009 that removed Xiomara Castro’s husband, then-President Manuel Zelaya, the morning-after pill was outlawed in Honduras, a predominantly Catholic nation in Central America.
After protests from feminist organizations, the health ministry approved the use of the pill last December specifically for rape victims.
Honduran Health Secretary Jose Manuel Matheu stated that the nation would never modify its position on the matter in an interview for a BBC documentary about illicit abortion pills that was taped in July 2022.
At the time, he declared, “We are not going to market the morning-after pill as contraception,” adding that doing so would result in “sexual debauchery”.
After the documentary’s December release, the term “desenfreno sexual” (sexual debauchery) quickly gained popularity in Honduras on Twitter as activists criticized Dr. Matheu’s word choice.
Dr. Matheu signed the executive order on March 8 with President Castro, but he did not respond to demands for comment from the BBC.
Yet, there is still work to be done, according to reproductive rights campaigner Sandy Artega, who hailed President Castro’s decision.
She told the BBC, “We will monitor the morning-after pill’s implementation process and we will fight for the other rights that we don’t have. “More sexual and reproductive rights are now possible,”
Even in situations involving rape or incest, abortion is always prohibited in Honduras and is subject to sentences of up to six years in jail.
A UN assessment states that Honduras performs between 51,000 and 82,000 unsafe abortions annually.