Photos by Kaloian Santos Cabrera
HAVANA TIMES – For almost a century, women in Argentina could only receive a legal abortion in case of rape or imminent danger to their life or health. In the country of Pope Francis – perhaps avant garde by Vatican standards, but Pope nonetheless – and of the stolen babies during the last military dictatorship, any interruption for other reasons of an unwanted pregnancy was considered a crime. Until this week.
After more than 12 hours of debate, the Senate approved by 38-29 the law of Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy. It allows this possibility until the 14th week of gestation. The new legislation is a watershed moment in the hemispheric struggle for women’s reproductive rights. For the right to decide over their own bodies.
According to El País, even when it was a crime with a prison sentence, some unofficial estimates put the number of clandestine abortions at up to half a million each year. In 2018, 38 women died from complications in unsafe abortions. Meanwhile, some 39,000 ended up hospitalized for the same cause, reported the newspaper.
Activism and mobilization played a big part
Those are the numbers. But perhaps what best explains the legalization of abortion in Argentina – after Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana and French Guiana -, and what offers more hope to feminists and progressive solidarity groups in the rest of Latin America, is that the law was conquered to a great extent through activism and popular mobilization.
Obviously, there was, and will be, a determined opposition from conservative and ecclesiastical sectors with great social and political influence.
This photo report by Cuban Kaloian Santos Cabrera illustrates precisely such a dilemma. On the one hand, the mass of green, feminist, in favor of legal abortion. On the other, the baby blue “pro-life” mobilization. Both took place during the hours of tension before the announcement of the Senate vote.
The agonizing line between that green tide (those girls who hug each other with scarves tied around their necks) and the demonstrators in light blue (with their religious or nationalist symbols) represents at the end of 2020, in Argentina, the disputed horizon of a democracy surely defective, but, as we have seen, dynamic, alive.
Now, the blue ones say they have lived a truly “macabre” day. Meanwhile, many people in Argentina and Latin America celebrate the new year with the phrase of popular spirit: “We conquered it. IT IS LAW! “