This year we watched in awe as Ireland took a monumental step towards improving the social condition of women. Abortion is soon to be legalised and written formally into the country’s constitution as the 36th Amendment. But at a time of progress – a legislative change in Ireland that represents a huge leap for liberal, pro-choice women at large – we tend to forget that such issues are ongoing in other pockets of the world.
Argentina has experienced growing division over the issue of reproductive rights for decades. In current political affairs, the country’s Prime Minister Mauricio Macri has called for congress to debate abortion rights in an official manner, despite being outwardly pro-life himself. Macri’s political action came in the form of a bill – a piece of legislation that had the potential to give women the right to abortion for up to 14 weeks of a pregnancy. This bill was passed narrowly by the lower house of Argentina’s parliament, but women will continue to hold their breath as they await the Senate’s decision which was debated on the 8th August and revealed by the day after, which happens to be today. Sadly, the bill has been rejected.
As a largely Catholic nation, much like Ireland, a vote to allow women to access abortions legally would represent a dynamic shift in Argentinian society – not to mention it is the most populous country in Latin America which could have made a powerful statement to a region that is home to some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
Since the law was enforced in 1921, the power of the Argentinian government prohibits abortion access to women unless they have been raped or the mother’s health is in danger. Those opposing Argentina’s current stance on abortion created a solid formation in 2005 with the founding of the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion. This cause received a considerable rise in prominence in 2015 due to the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement which condemned violence against women and gave exposure to female issues that would not normally be heard or discussed on such a large scale.
Perhaps with the echoes of Ireland’s success in this year’s referendum instilling them with courage, Argentinian women have taken a strong pro-choice stance through symbolically wearing green bandanas to express their support for the legalisation of abortion. Be it worn round their necks, wrist or handbags, the bandanas popped up all over the capital city of Buenos Aires in discreet and peaceful acts of resistance. Women gathered in their thousands this week as much rested on the Senate’s decision and following the passing of the Bill in the lower house, despite the Bill’s eventual rejection today, it seems opposition to legalising abortion has mobilised and substantiated. While the women of Argentina passionately protested and fought for the right to their own bodies, only to be rejected the right, we can only hope that the path for change has been paved through the wonderful displays of togetherness that females of all ages have displayed in recent weeks, months and years.
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