Abortion is legal in Argentina: this is how the historic feminist conquest was lived in the streets

The festivities after approval

Everything was summed up in a scream. A scream contained by waking hours, months of waiting, decades of struggle. With several seconds of expectation in the count, the giant screens arranged in the green sector in front of Congress confirmed the trend that was fed in the last hours: with 38 positive votes, 29 negative votes and 1 abstention, the Senate sanctioned the Voluntary Interruption law of Pregnancy (IVE). Thus, feminisms had their long-awaited revenge and the desire became effective: abortion is legal in the Argentine Republic.

On Callao, Rivadavia avenue, and the streets surrounding the northern sector of the Congress, all covered by the green militancy, the news that the screen announced – and the voice of Cristina Kirchner ratified through the speakers – caused an explosion, a thunderous noise of high-pitched screeches that generated a kind of tremor amidst the green smoke from the sparklers, fireworks and glasses that flew through the air. Then the tears fell and – even despite the unbearable heat of December and the pandemic – hugs erupted.

Agustina, 22, who traveled from Quilmes to be present tonight, looks at the screen where it clearly reads “approved” and jumps into the arms of her mother, Karina, 46, who contains her excited. “I really wasn’t so sure it was going to come out today, I can’t believe it. It was necessary, it is something basic for us, it is like the right to vote. This is too much ”.

"Green smoke" seconds after the result is known (Thomas Khazki)
“Green smoke” seconds after the result is known (Thomas Khazki)

The celebration was not just one more, it was not the same as the two times in which the project obtained half a sanction: this time, the sum of all those cries was the culminating point of one of the most important parliamentary conquests in the history of Argentine feminisms and, without a doubt, a milestone in the struggle of women and people with the capacity to gestate that They demanded for years the State to be able to decide on their bodies and maternity wards without being forced to risk life or freedom in hiding.

“This is something that I came with for many years. Those were other times of mine, there was no such thing as living today. I came for my ideals and also to accompany my daughter ”, says Karina, still shocked. “In my family there were many deaths, because abortion continued to exist in the same way, it was just clandestine. I hope it is different now ”.

The “green tide”, contrary to what is believed, is not homogeneous. This time, it was also especially diverse: there were men and women, trans people, political groups, groups of friends of all ages, families, adolescent girls or young adults with their mothers.

There were people of all ages and from all over the country (Catalina Calvo)
There were people of all ages and from all over the country (Catalina Calvo)

In that plurality, which is the very complexity of feminisms, emotions, ideology, family histories and personal opinions were mixed, but a cross-cutting certainty triumphed: From now on, the State will have the obligation and responsibility to ensure the health and freedom of every woman or person with the capacity to carry a child who wants to interrupt a pregnancy.

When, in the early morning of August 9, 2018, the green column collided head-on with a new postponement in the fight for the right to abort legally and safely, The crowd did not lower their heads and, in the extreme cold and in the rain, they sang louder to assure what they confirmed today in the streets: the fight was not over.

After four vigils, the promise was fulfilled at dawn on the second to last day of the year, within the time frame that Alberto Fernández promised at the opening of legislative sessions, when the coronavirus pandemic was still a distant problem and not a health crisis at the level National and international.

The party was on the green side (Matias Chiofalo - Europa Press)
The party was on the green side (Matias Chiofalo – Europa Press)

“I feel relief for all the ones that come after. I am relieved to think that far fewer women and people of childbearing potential are likely to be afraid to make decisions about their own lives. That is a step forward of which you do not return again “says Eliana, a member of the Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero.

Now, just as the fight did not end when the Senate rejected the law two years ago, for women on the streets the demand for legal, safe and free abortion does not end in the sanction.

“The challenge is to make a paper effective, that the law is actually enforced. Not that it is only a paper that says what we can do or not. In addition, it is necessary to start the military within each medical and obstetric office and in the entire field of health so that the decision about our bodies is real “explains Eliana. “Now you don’t have to lower your arms, you have to continue the fight,” agrees Gisela, 43, her eyes red from crying with emotion. “This is just starting”.

Photos: Catalina Calvo and Thomas Khazki

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