In Argentina, women resumed the fight for #LegalAbortion2020

Aerial view of # 19F crowds in front of the Argentine Congress. Public photo from Dronera.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of how women fight gender violence in Latin America.

Thousands protested in front of the Argentine National Congress in the capital Buenos Aires on February 19, 2020, in support of the legalization of abortion.

Abortion is illegal in Argentina, and punishable with a prison sentence, except when the pregnancy is the result of rape or when it poses a risk to the woman's life.

The march was organized by the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion and focused on the approval of a bill, proposed in parliament for the ninth time, that would allow the voluntary interruption of pregnancy and put an end to obstruction of access to abortions that are already legal.

The bill nearly passed in 2018 — it was approved by the Chamber of Deputies but rejected in the Senate by 7 votes from conservative senators spanning different political parties. The topic of abortion in Argentina transcends the lines of traditional party politics.

The bill was proposed again in 2019, but politicians refused to consider it at that time because it was an election year and many candidates preferred to avoid controversial issues.

In 2020, women’s rights advocates took to the streets and parliament once more with fresh hopes and the slogan “the bill is on the streets”:

Good morningggggggg!
How are we handling it?
 # 19F:

By our right today we go out to the streets, where our #LegalAbortion2020 Bill is. #LegalAbortion2020

At the act, which was referred to online as “#19F”, there were additional demands for legal action to also address gender inequality and violence, femicides, homophobia, transphobia, and the Comprehensive Sex Education (ESI) program, which is compulsory in every school in Argentina but has encountered several obstacles to its practical application due to opposition from conservative and religious fundamentalist movements.

On a stage set in front of the Plaza del Congreso in Buenos Aires, speakers commented on the campaign. Also present were three members of the Chilean collective Las Tesis, who performed an adaptation of the well-known anthem “A Rapist in Your Path,” alluding to clandestine abortion and young girls who are forced to become mothers:

Throughout the week, the #19F#Pañuelazo, and #AbortoLegal2020 (in English, #LegalAbortion2020) tags took social media by storm:

Because they are our bodies.
Because it is our right.
Because it is legal or clandestine.
Because sooner rather than later: it will be law ? #LegalAbortion2020 #19F

Supporting our Argentine compatriots #panuelazo for Legal Abortion! ???

TODAY TODAY TODAY TODAY TODAY TODAY TODAY #panuelazo Sex education to decide – anticontraceptives to avoid abortion, and #LegalSafeandFreeAbortion to avoid death. #LegalAbortion2020 ?

We do not want to read news like this anymore. We do not want any woman to have to die in the terror of secrecy. Let's not remain indifferent. The right to #LegalSafeAndFreeAbortion is a matter of public health.

Sooner than later, #ItWillBeLaw ? LegalAbortion2020 

International solidarity

The symbolic green #19F handkerchief (pañuelazo, in Spanish) was used in demonstrations of support in Argentina and beyond in several cities around the world:

All my strength for the Argentine sisters. I always say it: how much it is that I learn, we learn, from you. You will achieve it.

?? ? # LegalAbortion2020

Women in Colombia abort, it is a reality, regardless of whether or not it is legal.

We want them to do it safely, without putting their lives at risk.

Sex education to decide, contraceptives to avoid abortion, and legal abortion not to die! #LegalAbortion2020

Two years ago, the #pañuelazo emerged that initiated the 2018 legislative debate on legal abortion in Argentina. #19F for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion throughout Latin America.

“Abortion yes, abortion no, I decide that.” ?

Our Argentine sisters need today to feel our support in the hashtag #LegalAbortion2020 We know it will be law, keep fighting and know that you are not alone

The new president is in favor of decriminalization

In December 2019, when the new government of President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of the Frente de Todos coalition took office, the presidency confirmed the bill will be addressed in 2020.

President Fernández has openly stated himself to be in favor of legalizing abortion. This month, he announced that the executive branch will present a bill for its decriminalization. This marks a difference from the previous government of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), who was the first to address the abortion debate in 2018, but from a politically conservative perspective.

The composition of Argentina’s parliament is the same as two years ago, but many share the hope for changes of opinion in 2020’s new political context. According to polls, the majority of Argentines support the legalization of abortion.

To date, the formal details of each bill and the next steps for their development have not been made public. Whatever happens, Argentine feminists will continue the fight until the right to abortion is enshrined in law.

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