The green tide takes to the streets of Argentina once again
The green tide takes to the streets of Argentina once again. Protests were held for March 8, and strikes are scheduled for today, March 9. The feminist movement is mobilising to denounce the deaths of women, victims of violence by men and the State. Every 22 hours, a woman in Argentina is murdered and it is estimated that 400,000 illegal abortions take place every year, with 10% of these resulting in death.
The movement for legal and safe abortions defends broad access to sex education, contraceptives and the right to abortion. The bill presented by the movement, known as the "Law of Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy" is the fruit of the collective construction over 15 years by the women's movement in the country. Now, with the possibility of the bill being presented once again in Congress, the movement has returned to the streets with strength and has a real chance for victory.
In 2018, more than one million women, raging form very young girls to older women took to the streets with their green scarfs symbolising the movement, in defence of the legalisation of abortion. That year, which was still during the right wing government or Mauricio Macro, the bill almost passed into a law being approved in Congress, but was defeated in the Senate.
Since then, the situation in Argentina has reached high levels of polarisation, that is represented by the 'pañulos celestials' (blue or celestial scarfs), religious and conservative groups that are against any type of legalised abortion, and the 'pañulos verdes' (Green scarfs), that defend women's right to choose. The current President, Alberto Fernandez, whose vice-president is former President Cristina Kichner, had made promises and commitments to legalise abortion during his election campaign and won the backing of some of the feminist movement because of this.
In a statement earlier this month, Fernandez said that in ten days he will present a project that decriminalises abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy. He also said the project will be linked to public health, guaranteeing "integral sex education and prevention of unwanted pregnancy".
There are high expectations in the feminist movements because of this. The bill, however, has not yet been presented but the pronouncement of the president and vice-president, who was one of the senators to vote in favour of the bill in 2018, has raised the hopes of the whole movement, even though the government only has a majority in Congress but not the Senate, making the process still difficult.
Also worries have aroused after the president, during a recent visit to the Vatican, dubiously said, "I will keep my word, but this does not mean that I want to increase the gap between the green and blue scarfs". At the same time an archbishop called a mass in Buenos Aires with the call "yes to women, yes to life", increasing tensions. Part of the conservative sector defends that health professionals can claim "conscientious objection" and refuse to attend to women in pregnancy termination procedures, and there are worries that Fernandez might incorporate this in the bill.
It is a precarious moment for the feminist movement in the country, as sections of the movement that support Fernandez try to reduce the size of the protests and mobilisations in an attempt to not embarrass and wear out the government. The concern is that the government will try to mediate between the religious sectors and the pro-choice movement, leading to a bill that does not fully express the right to legal abortion and its guarantee in the public health system.
That is why, on February 19, there were thousands of women marching in at least ten state capitals, with the purpose of defending the original bill.
Neighbourhood assemblies have been set up that unite various political parties, trade unions, student collectives, women's collectives and that discuss the direction of the movement. This is part of important experiences of united struggle for the working class, especially for women.
On March 8th, International Day of Women's Struggle, they were once again leading the mobilisations and strikes. We cannot trust any of the unreliable governments of the ruling order; only through struggles on the streets is it possible to win, and we must show that we only achieve our goals when we fight.
Strengthen the struggle of Argentine women and let their just demands be law in 2020! May legal abortion be guaranteed as a public policy, and without institutional moral judgement!