The day is finally here. The session in the Lower House aimed at voting on the bill decriminalizing abortion has already began. The debate is expected to stretch out throughout the entire day, and the voting will probably not take place before 2 AM Thursday morning. Nonetheless, supporters from both camps have already started populating the respective areas of the Plaza de los dos Congresos; both intend to hold a vigil until the voting.
That’s why the Campaign for Safe, Legal, and Free abortion – the movement that has been instrumental in promoting the conversation and contributed to the drafting of the bill -released a set of guidelines providing useful tips for those who attend, taking into account the different scenarios that could ensue, given both the magnitude of the gathering and the sensitivity of the topic.
But first, it is important to clarify that even if the bill is passed today, abortion will not be legal in Argentina. The bill would then go to the Senate, to be debated in commissions for weeks – or months – similar to what happened in the Lower House. Only if it’s passed in commissions would it make it to the floor, where it would have to be given the green light in order to finally reach President Mauricio Macri’s desk.
Having clarified that, let’s go back to the tips.
How do you get there?
First and foremost, the Campaign indicates that the sector assigned to the supporters of decriminalization is the northern half of Congress, meaning that in order to get there, you would have to access via the streets north of Avenida Rivadavia and Avenida de Mayo (e.g. from Ayacucho down to Cerrito – see the map below). Those in the against camp will gather on the southern end.
Take into account that most public transport will alter their routes as a result of the manifestations, so if you’re planning to travel this way, find a stop that is relatively close to the area, because you will only be able to get to the center of the action on foot. The Campaign also recommends going north upon leaving; those who go south would have to take a massive detour to circumvent the perimeter set for the other camp.
What happens if you’re arrested?
It’s recommended to remember the following information: license plate number of the police car you were taken in, name(s) of the officer(s) who partook in the operation, as well as the exact location and time of the detention.
If you are a foreigner, bear in mind that authorities are required to communicate with your country’s consul, who will then have to provide you with a lawyer.
What if someone you’re with is detained?
The campaign advises to ask the involved official(s) where the detained person is being taken; they are required to do so an hour after the arrest. It also provides the numbers and locations of the nearest police stations, as well as the contact information of the Ombudsman, other offices tasked with dealing with institutional violence, and organizations providing legal aid that are going to be on call during the night. You can find them in the images below.
Remember to stay safe and travel in groups if you can, and bundle up – it’s cold out there.