¡Que sea ley! (Let it be law!) – Throwback to the year when the right to abortion almost won in Argentina!
In parallel with the first episode of our partners’ podcast ¡Basta Ya – The Voices of Struggle! which is nothing but an interview with Natalia Mira, a young Argentinian activist at the heart of the fight for the right to abortion, let’s look back on the historical events of 2018. Indeed, this year and after decades of relentless struggle, the abortion was close to being completely decriminalized thanks to an unprecedented mobilization, especially of the youth. Look back at the year when abortion almost “became law” in Argentina.
In Argentina, abortion has been criminalized since 1921 except in cases of rape, danger to the health or to the life of the pregnant person. Prior to 2012 and the Supreme Court judgment known as the Fallo “F.A.L”Le Fallo “F.A.L” is a judgment of the Argentine Supreme Court following a rape case on a minor raped by her stepfather. She got pregnant as a result of this rape and abortion, although not … Continue reading The Fallo “F.A.L” is a judgment of the Argentine Supreme Court following a rape case against a minor raped by her stepfather. While she got pregnant as a result of this rape, her abortion process, although it’s not penalized for rape since 1921, has been refused twice. In fact, until now, jurisprudence has required that only women and girls with a mental disability can benefit from an abortion in cases of rape. It was therefore necessary this judgment of the Supreme Court for the law to be finally ratified. To find out more (in Spanish): https://chequeado.com/el-explicador/que-es-el-fallo-faly-que-obligaciones-establecio-la-corte/, only abortions performed in cases of rape with women with a mental disability were considered non-punishable. Now, in case of rape, any Argentinian can have an abortion. At least in theory.
Indeed, despite the obligation – set out by the Supreme Court in this same judgment of 2012 – for provincial governments to issue abortion care protocols for cases authorized by law, many provinces , even today, do not have such protocols, present faulty protocols or do not adhere to the national protocolAs of December 2019, only 10 out of 24 provinces adhere to the national protocol while 3 of them neither adhere to the national protocol nor have their own protocol. These three provinces are those … Continue reading. As of December 2019, only 10 provinces out of 24 adhered to the national protocol while 3 of them neither did not adhere to the national protocol or have their own protocol. These three provinces are those of Tucuman, Corrientes and Santiago del Estero. Thus, many women and girls see their right to abortion denied because of a poor flow of information, the requirement of procedures that are in fact prohibited by law such as that of a prior authorization of ‘a judge or the lack of supervision of conscientious objection¡Basta Ya!, “L’objection de conscience – Convictions intimes contre les droits des femmes”, published on July 3rd, 2020, available on : … Continue reading..
A long-drawn-out legislative battle and the turning point of 2018
Since its inception in 2005, the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion has introduced abortion decriminalization bills eight times. The most recent presentation took place in 2018.
That year, amid a favorable political and socio-cultural context, a bill providing for the legalization of abortion up to 14 weeks gestation came very close to approval. First approved by the Chamber of Deputies in June with 129 votes in favor, 125 against and one abstention, it was then rejected in the Senate in August with 38 votes against, 31 in favor and 2 abstentions despite months of spectacular mobilizations across the country.
This half-hearted victory was unprecedented. Indeed, for the first time, abortion ceased to be a taboo subject, mainly dealt with by activists or health professionals. It really got onto the political agenda after years of feminist activism working in this direction. 2018 was thus the year in which civil society united widely, beyond traditional feminist activism and the medical and academic sectors which then strengthened their coordination.
All this was made possible thanks to the evolution of public opinion in favor of the right to abortion, even if society is still divided on the issue today. According to a survey conducted by the University of San Andrés in 2020, while abortion in cases of rape is a consensus (82% of respondents approving it), access to unconditional abortion is not always a point of agreement for the majority of the Argentine population (only 43% of respondents approving it)La Nación (2020) Encuesta. La mayoría se manifiesta a favor del aborto en caso de violación. Available on … Continue reading. This relative rejection of the decriminalization of abortion by the Argentinean population is not confined, as one might think, to the older generations.
According to a joint report by the feminist network LatFem and Oxfam ArgentinaLatFem and Oxfam Argentina, 2020, Rompiendo moldes – Transformar imaginarios y normas sociales para eliminar la violencia contra las mujeres en la Argentina. Available on: … Continue reading on the perceptions and social norms relating to gender among young people aged 15 to 25, 24.5% of them disagree with the acceptance of abortion in case of unwanted pregnancy. This proportion is even higher among 15-19-year-olds, with 39% of men and 23.9% of women in this age group being against unconditional abortion.
However, these figures show that a large majority of the new generation supports the full decriminalization of abortion. But this new generation is also involved in politics and in particular in the House of Representatives. Generally, transpartisan political alliances in 2018 made it possible to switch the vote in the House of Representatives to the side of the “Si”.
A historic mobilization: between street power and political debates
What is striking when we look at the political debates that took place around the abortion decriminalization project throughout the first half of 2018 is the colossal echo produced by the thousands of people in the streets across the country! For example, it was made clear with theAvailable on : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WMCJiA_si0 by Senator Fernando Solanas (father of Juan Solanas, the director of Que Sea Ley) speech that went viral). When the bill was rejected by the Senate, he paid a tribute to the young girls and women greatly mobilized close to the place . On the opposite, parliamentary sessions have also rhythm
ed the lives of many Argentines throughout this year, arousing strong emotions, sometimes joy and sadness in (de) favor of successive votes. This is what Natalia Mira, a young 19-year-old student who was at the time at the head of the student center at Pellegrini high school in Buenos Aires, explains to us, when she recalls the feeling she experienced throughout this that year :
“When the MPs decided to endorse the legalization of abortion, I had feelings I will never be able to forget. The hugs with my comrades, I will never forget them. And the demonstrations that followed for the Senate to approve the bill as wel, are also very beautiful moments that this year and feminist activism have given me. It was intense but it was worth it for the happiness that activism was that year. ”
What Natalia’s testimony shows us is the essential and unique role that the new generation has played and the place it has taken in the debate. Because if the fight for the right to abortion in Argentina is old and intergenerational, it has taken a new turn in recent years thanks to an awakening of feminist consciousness among young people. In this regard, Natalia even tells us about a “new feminist wave” more aware of the intersectionality of the struggles to be carried on – between the struggle against patriarchy and the anti-capitalist struggle – facing an uncertain future:
“In my opinion, the role that the youth has taken over the last few years is completely crazy, it is central in politics these days. In fact, we currently have a member of Parliament who is 20 years old. It’s not nothing, it’s proof that young people are taking a very active role in politics. You could say that a new feminist wave is emerging, which shows that the youth want to play a fundamental role in the present events, in what will be our future and that they want to be part of the discussion. To me, that’s what it is about. It’s being in the streets. It’s being in the discussions. It is deciding what society we want and not being satisfied with the reality that is ours today, which is an agonizing reality for many. “
“Hasta que sea ley”: from “failure” from 2018 to today
Despite the semi-failure of 2018, Argentinian pro-abortion activism did not admit defeat. On the contrary, it continued while integrating new issues, including those relating to the deterioration of the economic situation under the conservative regime of Maurio Macri. Moreover, and beyond the only fundamental right to abortion, windows for new debates have been opened, as Natalia tells us:
“Today, we still continue to fight for the right to abortion, with everything that this implies in terms of sovereignty over our bodies, the law for comprehensive sex education, the real application of this comprehensive sex education, the protocols of gender violence in all institutions, schools, universities, within the State, private institutions… I believe that the law for abortion opens a space to debate a lot of other things. ”
Post-2019 period also reveals an even stronger imprint of activism in political life. We see it through the election of pro-abortion MPs such as Ofelia Fernandez (youngest MP in the country’s history, elected at only 19!) But also, through the coming to power of Alberto Fernández, defender of inclusive writingFabien Palem, “En Argentine, même le président de la République parle en langage inclusif”, Slate, publié le 5 juin 2020, available on : … Continue reading and pro-abortion President who notably campaigned by highlighting the preparation of a new bill in favor of decriminalizationAFP, “En Argentine, la légalisation de l’avortement revient au centre du débat”, published on March, 4th 2020, Le Point, available on : … Continue reading ! This project, which was due to be presented just before the COVID-19 outbreak, has been on hold so far. However, the exceptional nature of the health situation does not mark the end of Argentinian feminist activism, more active than ever as we can see with all the actions undertaken online by the activists of the National Campaign for the Right to Abortion. legal, safe and freeHere is the Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/CampAbortoLegal!
To cite this article : ¡Basta Ya!, “¡Que sea ley! – Retour sur l’année où le droit à l’avortement a bien failli l’emporter en Argentine !”, 03.10.2020, Institut du Genre en Géopolitique
|↑1||Le Fallo “F.A.L” is a judgment of the Argentine Supreme Court following a rape case on a minor raped by her stepfather. She got pregnant as a result of this rape and abortion, although not penalized for rape since 1921, has been refused twice. In fact, until now, case law wanted only women and girls with a mental disability to benefit from an abortion in cases of rape. This judgment of the Supreme Court was therefore necessary for the law to be finally ratified. Find out more (in Spanish): https://chequeado.com/el-explicador/que-es-el-fallo-f-a-l-y-que-obligaciones-establecio-la-corte/|
|↑2||As of December 2019, only 10 out of 24 provinces adhere to the national protocol while 3 of them neither adhere to the national protocol nor have their own protocol. These three provinces are those of Tucuman, Corrientes and Santiago del Estero. https://www.telam.com.ar/notas/201912/416154-provincias-que-adhieren-al-protocolo-para-la-interrupcion-legal-del-embazo.html|
|↑3||¡Basta Ya!, “L’objection de conscience – Convictions intimes contre les droits des femmes”, published on July 3rd, 2020, available on : https://bastaya-docu.jimdofree.com/2020/07/03/l-objection-de-conscience-convictions-intimes-contre-les-droits-des-femmes/|
|↑4||La Nación (2020) Encuesta. La mayoría se manifiesta a favor del aborto en caso de violación. Available on : https://www.lanacion.com.ar/politica/aborto-la-opinion-publica-se-manifiesta-favor-nid2337612|
|↑5||LatFem and Oxfam Argentina, 2020, Rompiendo moldes – Transformar imaginarios y normas sociales para eliminar la violencia contra las mujeres en la Argentina. Available on: https://latfem.org/rompiendo-moldes/Informe-Rompiendo-Moldes-202007.pdf|
|↑6||Available on : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WMCJiA_si0|
|↑7||Fabien Palem, “En Argentine, même le président de la République parle en langage inclusif”, Slate, publié le 5 juin 2020, available on : http://www.slate.fr/story/191160/argentine-langage-inclusif-omnipresent-instiution-debat-monde-hispanique|
|↑8||AFP, “En Argentine, la légalisation de l’avortement revient au centre du débat”, published on March, 4th 2020, Le Point, available on : https://www.lepoint.fr/monde/en-argentine-la-legalisation-de-l-avortement-revient-au-centre-du-debat-04-03-2020-2365590_24.php#|
|↑9||Here is the Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/CampAbortoLegal|