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Histories of Women’s Reproduction in Latin America and the Caribbean: Conclusion

by Bonnie A. Lucero and Elizabeth O’Brien


At the end of 2020, reproductive rights activists in Argentina won a long-fought struggle to legalize abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy. They did so through the power of public protest, direct action, and unwavering political and legal advocacy. Yet, many countries in Latin America maintain some of the most severe restrictions on abortion in the world, and tens of thousands of women have been imprisoned for suspected abortion after having undergone obstetric emergencies. These figures underscore how much there is left to be explored in the history of women’s reproduction in Latin America and the Caribbean. All areas of research—on infant, child, and maternal welfare, as well as eugenics, contraception, and abortion—will benefit from more primary and secondary voices filling in the historical record.

Exciting forthcoming work includes the following books, which will soon be available: Lina Maria Murillo’s Fighting for Control: Race and Reproductive Rights Activism in the U.S-Mexico Borderlands and Bonnie A. Lucero’s Race and Reproduction in Cuba since Colonial Times (under contract with the University of Georgia Press). Completed theses and dissertations include Rachell Sánchez Rivera’s “What Happened to Mexican Eugenics?: Racism and the Reproduction of the Nation” and Elizabeth O’Brien’s “Intimate Interventions: The Cultural Politics of Reproductive Surgery in Mexico, 1790–1940.”  In addition, there are several important dissertations currently in progress by Martha Liliana Espinosa, who researches contraception in Mexico; Natalie Gasparowicz, who investigates family planning in Mexico; and L.J. Brandli, whose work explores gender and surgery during the Cold War.