Women in Argentina want abortion to be legal

In Argentina, pregnancy can be terminated legally only in two cases: when it is the result of a rape or when it threatens the life of a mother. Despite that fact, there are between 370,000 to 522,000 abortions done there every year. It means that almost 40% of all pregnancies are interrupted. 80,000 women a year are hospitalized because of abortion complications. The treatments are most often carried out illegally. The activists and the left-wingers have protested on the streets this week, demanding to change the law.

A chauvinist who is for the right to abortion

Thousands of women surrounded the National Congress, demanding a legal, safe and free of charge access to abortion in Argentina. They were holding green handkerchiefs in their hands. These handkerchiefs became the symbol of the pro-choice campaigns and organizations.

The activists protested earlier in September carrying banners with the slogan: “No woman will die anymore during the illegal abortion”. They could not understand why the country, which was one of the first to legalize homosexual marriages, has such a restrictive abortion law. Although they realize it could be worse. In the neighbouring Paraguay, abortion is allowed only when the pregnancy threatens mother’s life. As a result, girls under the age of 14 are forced to give birth to a child. There was a huge story three years ago about a ten-years-old girl, who was raped by her stepfather. Paraguay government refused her the right to terminate pregnancy.

The demands of women in Argentina were publicized by Jorge Rial, a well-known television presenter. He started to invite guests who talked about feminism, sexual harassment and chauvinism in his TV program called “Intrusos”. One day Jorge wrapped a green handkerchief around his wrist, the symbol of the campaign for the right to abortion. – I have two daughters and I owe them to two women who have not removed their pregnancy. Nevertheless, I am for the right to abortion – he confessed. He also added, that he is a chauvinist in the process of changing and he must learn how to listen to others.

Argentine women realized that the presenters’ words received a lot of attention. They decided to start a campaign in social media for legal, safe and free abortion. Thousands of women have published abortion statistics using a proper hashtag within the next few hours. There was also a second, less numerous group, made up of people with pro-life views, who started the #yesforlife campaign.

Intensive physical exercises and abortion pills

Anahi became a mother at the age of 15. She told her history in the press. She left school to take care of the child. Her boyfriend started to beat her up and he did not let her use contraception, so a year later she got pregnant for the second time. – He was happy – she told the newspaper “Infobae” – It was one of those men who wants to have a lot of children, because then they are sure that the woman would stay at home.

Anahi decided to terminate her pregnancy. In her opinion, if a woman really wants it, there is no way to change her mind. She tried some traditional methods first: she lifted weights, did a lot of physical exercise, and took some Ibuprofen pills. Then her cousin gave her abortion pills, which must be taken before the 12th week of pregnancy. She took them in the fifth week. She came to the hospital having cramps, intense pain and a bleeding. She tried to cheat the doctors saying that the miscarriage happened naturally. However, the doctors figured out the truth and began to treat her pretty badly. Anyway, she believes she was lucky because her boyfriend, who beat her during pregnancy, did not suspect anything.

Anahi says the government should not be afraid that the liberalization of the abortion law will make women decide to terminate pregnancy too often. – It is such a dramatic decision that every woman tries to avoid it – she says.

No sexual education

In 2016 in Argentina, 54 out of a thousand children were born by women aged 15-19. It happens mainly due to the lack of sexual education. According to a study made by the University of Buenos Aires in 2015, only half of the teenagers used condoms during the sexual act and even less did it correctly. When girls in poor socioeconomic situation become mothers, they leave school or work and focus on motherhood. As a result, the number of unemployed and uneducated women is growing significantly, and the differences between social classes are getting deeper.

– Abortions done with the help of plant stems and racks still happen, as can be seen on the suburbs of the capital city or in the north of the country – says Mario Sebastiani, a gynaecologist and an author of the book about the legal and safe aspects of abortion. – All these foreign objects are put in reproductive track by women in the moments of desperation. They can cause infections and cramps. There are no such statistics in our country, but it is estimated that about 100 women die every year due to complications during the act of abortion.

In his book Mario Sebastiani writes that “sepsis causes women to fade because of anaemia and to turn their face blue due to cyanosis, and to turn yellow due to liver failure (…). It is so close to death”.

Most Argentinians are for legal abortion

According to the study carried out in January by Gustavo Cordoba and Asociados in Córdoba, Argentina, 65.5% of the respondents are in favour of legal abortion, sex education and the accessibility of contraceptives. 27.2% respondents are against and 7% did not give an answer. At the same time, almost half of people think that abortion is an attempt of a murder. 6 out of 10 people think that the number of women who die while trying to terminate their pregnancy would be reduced thanks to the change of law.

The government is not unanimous on the abortion law. Politicians who are believers tend to be conservative and do not want any changes. – I am against abortion and for the right to live – said Rogelio Frigerio, Minister of Internal Affairs on the “Red” radio station. – Our country has to deal with a huge responsibility for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

There are also many politicians who are in favour of liberalization of the law. Juliana Di Tullio, one of the deputies, has been demanding a change for a long time. She often argued about it with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former President of Argentina. De Kirchner thought that the country was not ready to talk about abortion. Without her support and an insufficient number of votes in the Congress, Juliana Di Tullio was unable to push through the project of the new abortion law. Recent events in Argentina have given her hope hat there is a possibility of changing the law in the near future thanks to the support of other women in politics.

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