Well, it’s official. In a press conference full of optimism and enthusiasm, it was announced that the vote on abortion in the Lower House of Congress will take place on Wednesday, June 13. This will be a historic day, as it will be the first time that the bill to decriminalize abortion has made it so far through the Argentine legislative system.
As the debate enters its final stages, the room was filled with an overriding sense of optimism that the bill would be passed. The press conference opened to a rousing rendition of pro-choice chants, and the deputies’ pronouncements were invariably met with cheers and applause. As Kirchnerite Mónica Macha put it, “Congress is turning green,” and the impression was that the campaign is confident as the final weeks of debates progress.
While there has been no pronouncement on the exact wording of the law proposal thus far, the emphasis was on the wider repercussions of the bill in question. Indeed, each of the deputies reiterated that rather than this debate just dealing with the question of decriminalizing and legalizing abortion, it fits into a wider international discourse about women’s rights over their bodies and finally reaching definitive gender parity. One of the events planned in the run-up to the vote are demonstrations planned to coincide with the third anniversary of the #NiUnaMenos movement.
The deputies each extolled the merits and strengths of the pro-abortion campaign thus far. Martha Alanis, from the National Campaign For Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion (Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito), emphasized that in these last few weeks the campaign will double their efforts to maintain a strong presence. On Monday, May 28, the International Day of Action for the Sexual Health of Women, there will be a city-wide pañuelazo, where supporters and allies will turn out bedecked in the trademark green scarves; in the run up to the vote, there will be continuing protests and demonstrations. Finally, from Tuesday, June 12, there will a vigil outside Congress while they await the results of the vote.
As Ireland prepares to head to the ballot boxes tomorrow to vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, campaigners and legislators from all sides of the debate in Argentina will be watching the results with baited breath. With only three weeks to go, the results from Ireland will be significant whichever way they swing.
Whatever happens, both campaigns have emphasized that legalizing abortion only means recognizing something that is very much a reality for women in both countries. Victoria Donda, from Libres del Sur, summed up that legalizing abortion was about being realistic. “Abortion has existed, exists, and will exist in Argentina. This is not a case of saying ‘yes’ to abortion or ‘no’ to abortion, it’s about choosing between legal abortion and clandestine abortion,” she said. “This is a question of life and liberty.”