The final vote to decide whether or not Argentina will legalize abortion is just one day away, scheduled for August 8th.
In addition to access to free and legal abortion, the bill calls for improved universal access to sexual and reproductive health education in the Argentine public school system and expanded access to free contraceptives.
Before passing to the Senate, the bill first had to go through Argentina’s Congress, which voted “yes” on June 13th of this year.
While the Congress was still debating the final verdict, feminist pro-choice activists crowded around the government building as part of an all-night vigil that they had planned for the occasion, cloaked in green, playing the drums, and carrying signs with pro-choice slogans.
A common slogan scrawled in the crowd was “sex education to decide, contraceptives to avoid abortion, legal abortion to not die,” the official mantra of the pro-choice movement.
Now, this vigil will be replicated for the vote in the Senate on Wednesday, August 8th.
For our reader’s convenience, we at the Bubble have compiled an extensive guide on how to attend the vigil, complete with places, times, and other relevant information:
Plaza del Congreso | Avenida Rivadavia 1700, Buenos Aires
The official time for the vigil, listed on the Facebook event, is from 12 PM on August 8th, to 12 PM on August 9th. Meanwhile, a large number of people are also expected to arrive after work, starting at 6 PM.
During the previous vigil, many people spent the night outside of Congress, commemorating the women who have fallen victims to clandestine abortions within the country and then later celebrating the results the following morning.
The majority of pro-choice activists will thus begin gathering around Plaza del Congreso at noon, although it is likely that a number of people will also arrive beforehand.
The session is set to begin at 12 PM. The debate will likely last well into the night, and the exact time that the vote will occur is still unknown.
Participate From Abroad:
If you’ve been following the abortion debate closely but are abroad, not to worry, a number of “international vigils” in support of the pro-choice movement in Argentina have been announced for the same day.
These will be happening in cities such as Barcelona, Brussels, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Asunción, Bogotá, Lima, Montevideo, Santiago, San José, and Quito. Most of these vigils will be taking place at the Argentine embassy in these cities, but you should still look up your individual city for exact times and locations.
How to Get There:
Traffic will likely be chaotic this Wednesday, so a number of people will be walking, biking, or taking public transit. If you are not used to public transit in Buenos Aires, the app CómoLlego is an excellent resource that makes it straightforward and easy to use. However, 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. Once you are a few blocks away from the Plaza, the only way to get around will be on foot.
Due to the setup of the event, including the vigil itself, protests organized by the anti-abortion side, stages, tents, security and health checkpoints, as well as a cordoned-off area for the press, there are a number of routes that will be blocked off or much more difficult to navigate. It is thus important to go to the event prepared with a pre-planned route and point of entry.
There are two streets that extend horizontally on either side of the Plaza, Avenida Rivadavia, and Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen. Much of the Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen side will be cut off or have restricted access, so it is highly recommended that you enter the area through the Avenida Rivadavia side of the Plaza. (The same route is recommended upon departure).
Recommended Routes: While you can feasibly enter the area by going down Callao, Montevideo, Uruguay, and Libertad toward Avenida Rivadavia, the easiest entry will be by going down Avenida 9 de Julio, as it will have the most open space to traverse and thus the easiest mobility. A number of pro-choice groups plan to march together down the Avenida, and then take Rivadavia or Avenida de Mayo toward the Congress.
Important Locations to Keep in Mind:
Health & Security Checkpoints: There will be five health and security checkpoints in the area. These are important to keep in mind in case of any emergency. They will be located on the corner of Avenida 9 de Julio and Avenida de Mayo, on the corner of Libertad and Avenida de Mayo, on the corner of Parana and Avenida de Mayo, on the corner of Bartolome Mitre and Callao, and right next to the Congress, near the corner of Callao and Rivadavia.
Screens: Four large screens will also be set up around the area, projecting a live feed of the ongoing debate and the final vote. These will be located next to the health and security checkpoints listed above, with the exception of the checkpoint on the corner of Bartolome Mitre and Callao.
Stages & Tents: A number of different stages and tents will also be set up by both sides of the debate during the final debate and vote, each with different ongoing events, activities, information, and, often times, public figures and celebrities.
On the pro-choice side, the three stages will be near the screens and health and security checkpoints on the corner of Bartolome Mitre and Callao, on the corner of Avenida 9 de Julio and Avenida de Mayo, and on the corner of Paraná and Avenida de Mayo.
Meanwhile, the four tents on the pro-choice side will be set up on the corner of Montevideo and Rivadavia, near the health and security checkpoint on the corner of Libertad and Avenida de Mayo, and two next two each other, one on the corner of Uruguay and Avenida de Mayo and another half-way down that same block.
Press Bunker: The designated area for the press will be set up in Hotel Castelar, on Av. de Mayo 1152, near the corner of Libertad and Avenida de Mayo.
If you don’t want to go to the vigil alone and haven’t yet found a group to travel with, don’t fret! A number of groups have been organized around the city for people to travel to the vigil together from different locations.
- San Justo: If you live in or near San Justo and would like other people to attend the vigil with, a group will be traveling to the Senate together from Av. Dr. Ignacio Arieta 2952, half a block from the Plaza San Justo. They will be meeting on the first floor. If you would like to join them, you can text your RSVP to 1137924804.
- Tortuguitas: A group is leaving from the Tortuguitas train station at 12:15 PM. If you would like to join, text Pipa at 15-3379-7563.
- Mercedes: A group is leaving from the Mercedes train station at noon.
- Grand Bourg: A group is leaving from the Grand Bourg train station at 12:20 PM. If you would like to join, text Vicky at 15-3847-3374.
- Polvorines: A group is leaving from the Polvorines train station at 12:30 PM. If you would like to join, text Jaz at 15-3460-7139
- Torcuato: A group is leaving from the Torcuato train station at 12:35 PM. If you would like to join, text Irina at 15-3594-0257.
- Lujan: A group is leaving from the Lujan train station at 12:45 PM.
- Munro: A group is leaving from the Munro train station at 1 PM. If you would like to join, text Zoe at 15-6420-5946.
- Gral. Rodriguez: A group is leaving from the Gral. Rodriguez train station at 1 PM.
- Moreno: A group is leaving from the Moreno train station at 1:20 PM.
- Morón: A group is leaving from Morón. If you would like to join, message Daiana Jaime at 15-6224-3589. Another group will be meeting at 2 PM in Plaza San Martίn, in front of the church.
- Caseros: A number of different groups are leaving from Caseros. If you would like to join, text Natalia Ranzuglia at 15-2530-7409.
- Once: A group will be meeting in Plaza Miserere at 3:15 PM. If you would like to join, you can message Micu Espínola over Facebook.
If you can’t leave from any of these locations, not to worry! Posts looking for groups to travel with and attend the vigil together on the official Facebook page for the event often get a number of replies. You can make your own and generally expect a rapid response.
Dress to impress: Since green is the official color of the pro-choice side, many who show up at the vigil tend to be covered in the color from head to toe.
The green pañuelo, meanwhile, is the iconic symbol of the pro-choice movement in Argentina. You can order yours on Mercado Libre, or buy one outside of many universities, in addition to other generally crowded areas, where they usually sell for around AR $30- $50. They will also be sold at the vigil itself, of course.
If you don’t have anything green in your closet, however, not to worry. Many in the same position have shown up with green face-paint, nail-polish, glitter, or makeup. Of course, if you don’t have any of these, it’s also not a big deal. There is no actual dress-code, and the most important thing is that you’ve shown up to support the movement—not what you’re wearing.
Don’t forget, it’s winter: As of now, the weather for Wednesday is predicted to be cold, cloudy, and rainy. So don’t forget to dress warmly and bring along a raincoat, poncho, rain boots, or an umbrella—even if its not green.
Light it up: To give the event the classic “vigil” aesthetic, many attending the event will be covering their phone’s flashlights with green cellophane, to shine green lights around the Senate as they await the verdict. Other, more old-fashioned attendees will be doing the same with actual flashlights. (You can also download apps to achieve the same effect on your phone).
Sharing is caring: During the last vigil, a number of people brought thermoses of mate or other hot drinks, as well as snacks, which were shared among those attending. Some more adventurous attendees even handed out shots while they waited for the official outcome to be announced.
Safety first: Remember that people get easily riled up by the abortion debate, and a number of women and girls wearing green handkerchiefs have already been assaulted and had their lives threatened by pro-lifers around the country. (We know—it’s ironic). Remember that safety always comes first. If you can, stick with friends or in groups (see above for groups traveling and attending the event together), and keep a healthy distance from possible altercations or fights.
With such a large crowd of people gathered, it’s also a good idea to keep the valuables you bring along to a minimum, and kept in a safe place, especially when it comes to your cell phone.
What to do if there’s tear gas: First of all, it is important to remove yourself from any area where tear gas might be present as soon as possible. Having a handkerchief or a scarf on hand to protect your nose, mouth, and face is also important, especially since it will be cold anyways. It is also recommended to carry in your bag or a pocket either a lemon, or a small bottle with lemon juice or vinegar, which work well to neutralize the tear gas if any gets on you. Many soak their handkerchiefs in vinegar and hold up to their nose to breathe more easily in the case of tear gas diffusions.
What to do if you’re arrested: Make sure to keep an ID with you at all times, preferably one that is government-issued. 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 to do 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.
Other tips: Pack light! Make sure your phone is fully charged, and your SUBE card has enough funds if you are taking public transportation. If you have a group of friends you are going with, prepare a list with their DNI or other ID numbers in case of emergencies, which you can keep on your phone.