The “Double Discourse” on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Latin America
The international policy arena today is marked by strong clashes of values with regard to sexuality and reproduction. This chapter will examine how political controversies affect citizens’ ability to exercise sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America, with examples from several countries, but focusing mainly on Chile. This is not a comprehensive overview of the variety of sexual and reproductive rights abuses in the region, but rather an analysis of the social and political dynamics associated with contested policy issues in sexual and reproductive rights. The chapter will argue that societies accommodate conflicting views on sexuality and reproduction via a “double discourse system,” which maintains the status quo in repressive or negligent public policies while expanding private sexual and reproductive choices behind the scenes. Two specific examples-divorce law in Chile and abortion advocacy in Colombia and Chilewill highlight how this breach between public discourse and private actions operates in practice, and who is harmed by it. The chapter will conclude by discussing the implications of this system for rights advocacy.