Abortion law reforms in Colombia and Nicaragua: issue networks and opportunity contexts

Dev Change. 2011;42(3):805-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2011.01714.x.


This article analyses two instances of abortion law reform in Latin America. In 2006, after a decades-long impasse, the highly controversial issue of abortion came to dominate the political agenda when Colombia liberalized its abortion law and Nicaragua adopted a total ban on abortion. The article analyses the central actors in the reform processes, their strategies and the opportunity contexts. Drawing on Htun's (2003) framework, it examines why these processes concluded with opposing legislative outcomes. The authors argue for the need to understand the state as a non-unitary site of politics and policy, and for judicial processes to be seen as a key variable in facilitating gender policy reforms in Latin America. In addition, they argue that ‘windows of opportunity’ such as the timing of elections can be critically important in legislative change processes.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / economics
  • Abortion, Induced* / education
  • Abortion, Induced* / history
  • Abortion, Induced* / psychology
  • Colombia / ethnology
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Care Reform* / economics
  • Health Care Reform* / history
  • Health Care Reform* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Jurisprudence* / history
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Nicaragua / ethnology
  • Politics*
  • Reproductive Rights* / economics
  • Reproductive Rights* / education
  • Reproductive Rights* / history
  • Reproductive Rights* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Reproductive Rights* / psychology
  • Women's Health / ethnology
  • Women's Health / history