The passing of a new bill allowing abortion represents an imminent major victory for Argentine women that was achieved through popular struggle, writes Steph Pike
Argentina’s National Abortion Campaign’s demands for free, legal, safe abortion, which came a stop closer to victory last week, are threefold; “Educacion para decidir, anticonceptivos para no abortir, aborto legal para no morir” (education to be able to decide, contraception to prevent abortions, abortion to prevent deaths).
Last Thursday a ‘green tide’ filled the streets of Buenos Aires to march and demonstrate outside the Congress building as Argentina’s lower house of Congress debated and then voted on a bill to legalize abortion.
Thousands of women and supporters of abortion rights, with their iconic green hankerchiefs which has become the symbol of the pro-chioce movement in Argentina, stayed outside congress all night and broke out in celebration as the historic vote was announced.
Although the vote still has to be passed by the Senate, where a similar bill was defeated in 2018, it is likely that this time the bill will succeed.
Although the Catholic Church still has much influence in Argentina, this time the bill has been supported by the left-wing President Alberto Fernandez who has pledged to make women’s rights a central tenet of his government.
However, it is decades of campaigning by women’s groups that have led to this historic vote. After the 2018 defeat, the campaign for abortion rights in Argentina intensified.
It is their determined and highly visible campaign, with feminist and activists wearing the iconic green handkerchief to signal their support for abortion rights, and decades of campaigning that has led to this historic vote.
To have autonomy and control over our bodies is why the fight for abortion rights has been and remains at the heart of the fight for women’s liberation. And though the victory in Argentina is a huge step forward and a cause for great celebration, there is still a long way to go before women throughout the world have the right to free abortion on demand.
Even the countries with the most liberal abortion laws place restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion. In many countries abortion is still illegal and the abortion rights that women do have are increasingly coming under attack.
In November, hundreds of thousands of women protested against the Polish government’s attempts to limit abortion rights. The fight for abortion rights and to protect abortion rights continues. The victory in Argentina sends a message of hope and solidarity to women and pro-choice activists across the world as this vital campaign continues.
As Argentinian feminists say, “la lucha esta en la calle”, ‘the fight is on the streets”. It is only through mass campaigning and protests that our rights will be won and defended.
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Steph Pike a is a revolutionary socialist, feminist and People's Assembly activist. She is also a published poet. Her poetry collection 'Petroleuse' is published by Flapjack Press.
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