Monday, January 18

Argentina legalizing abortion is a victory for women over the abuse of political power | Argentina


TThe women looked like my grandmothers, at least as I remember them I Every Thursday, they sat on benches in the plaza, with white scarves covering their hair, and together they waited or marched I The handkerchiefs represented diapers, as if their children were still babies, whatever their age I They were the mothers – and later the grandmothers – of the PlazaDel Mayo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the 1970s and 1980s I Once strangers to each other, they occupied the plaza to wait I They met at police stations and churches, where they went in search of information about their children I What exactly did they expect to find? Their children – young men and women, students and workers – who had been disappeared by the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983 I What they found instead was an unbearable truth: their children had been tortured and killed by the government I

Only later did it occur to me that I must resemble his missing granddaughters, orphans shortly after being born in the jails of the dictatorship I These women sought the truth in Argentine politics from below: they took to the streets, occupied the plaza, made their own bodies a monument to the struggle I

I grew up far from glamorous Buenos Aires, in a rural town in Córdoba I My father is a CatholicDelacon there I I was baptized, took my first communion, and was confirmed; later I got married, a Catholic woman from the interior of Argentina I In the faith community where I grew up, not much was said about feminism or the sexual revolution brought on by the pill I

In the early 2000s, as an immigrant to the United States, I met women who challenged the Catholic faith based on the lived experience of ordinary women I They were Catholics, like my mother, grandmothers and aunts, but they talked about sexuality, contraception and the equality of men and women I One of the leaders of the movement was Marta Alanis, a Catholic who told the story of her own clandestine abortion I In 2003, at the close of the National Meeting of Women in Argentina, she tore off a piece of green cloth and put it on her head I Reviving the legacy of the mothers of the PlazaDell Mayo, these feminists were the ones who went on to fight for the legalization of abortion in Argentina I It was the dawn of the Green Wave, a movement of millions of girls and women of all ages and beliefs in the streets of Argentina I

On Wednesday,December 30, 20210, Argentina’s national congressDelcided that abortion should no longer be a criminal matter I Women will be allowed to terminate pregnancies for up to 14 weeks, free of charge in public hospitals, with exceptions made after this point for rape and situations where the woman’s health is in danger I After 17 years of waiting and 13 bills, girls who look like my own daughter are taking to the streets to celebrate this transformative moment for such a sensitive issue in Latin American politics I

I was in Argentina when a bill was almost passed in 2018; As legislators proclaimed their votes in wordy statements, the atmosphere outside the building was one of joy I As I walked the streets around the Palace of Congress, where Argentina’s past wealth is on display, I reveled in the immoderate hope of women who might have been the granddaughters of the mothers of the PlazaDel Mayo I Like their ancestors, they too wore kerchiefs, now hope green, and they wore anywhere, around the neck and wrists, hanging from backpacks I

The Covid-19 pandemic prevented me from joining women on the streets last week, but I have seen from abroad how the Green Wave swept across Latin America I The green scarf has been used in mobilizations in favor of abortion in Oaxaca, Mexico, Brasilia, Brazil and SantiagoDel Chile I If the headscarf has long been the symbol of women’s struggle against abusive political power in Argentina, now it is also a symbol of hope and feminist transformation I Abortion has already been approved by women; it is something we practice regardless of a country’s penal code or our own faith I Abortion has already been approved in the streets, by generations of women I And now it is law I

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