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The Chamber of Deputies of Argentina approved on Thursday (14) the decriminalization of abortion. The law ensures the interruption of pregnancy until the 14th week of gestation and extended the period in cases of rape, risk of life for the mother and malformation of the fetus. Abortion is illegal in Argentina, the law (of 1921) provides prison sentences of one to four years for women who interrupt pregnancy – as in Brazil.

In the countercurrent, a week ago a Green Maré (color of hope) took the streets of the main Argentine cities, and overflowed in the capital Buenos Aires. The strength of the mobilization of women of all ages gained sympathy from the public and changed the score that seemed unfavorable in the Congress vote.

Once again, the feminist movement assumed the vanguard of the world struggle. Only in 2018 we had the women’s strike in Spain and the plebiscite approval of the legalization of abortion in Ireland, an ultra Catholic country. Now, Argentines are taking an important step towards legalizing abortion in their country. The next stage is the vote in the Senate, scheduled for the next few weeks. International solidarity will be fundamental for the consecration of this conquest. In addition, if the legalization of abortion is confirmed in the Argentine Senate, the pressure will increase so that the other countries of the Southern Cone follow this example.

The struggle of the Argentine women is fundamental for the future of the women’s movement in Brazil. For this reason, we interviewed Fernanda Melchionna and Sámia Bomfim – feminist councilors for the MES-PSOL in Porto Alegre and São Paulo – for our LEFT ON THE MOVE. They comment on the future of the Feminist Spring in Latin America.

FERNANDA MELCHIONNA: “We must help multiply this Green Tide and make this example help us face the conservatism of Brazil”

What happened in Argentina was a phenomenal victory. The whole movement of women – especially from Latin America – is accompanying, twisting and, above all, militating to reflect the example of the sisters in our country. A huge triumph that can lead the third country of South America to advance on the right of women to their own bodies. At the same time, this is the result of an accumulation of the women’s movement that has strength in Argentina for a long time, which gained a new breath recently with the “Ni Una a Menos”. Today, the Green Tide takes care of the streets of that country. They were multitudinous demonstrations that by themselves reveal the force of the pattern, involving many women.

We have also seen the ability of a movement to conquer public opinion, demonstrating that it is not about being pro or against abortion, but about defending women’s lives. The issue stopped being a taboo and became a debate about public health and protection of our lives. We know that this issue has been treated hypocritically, since it is a reality for most women. However, the rich pay dearly to do it safely and the poor, and mostly black in the case of Brazil, are victims of real clandestine butcheries. And they are still criminalized.

This conquest is the fruit of the Spring of Women that has marked many mobilizations around the world. Only in a context like this that we would see a strike only of women, as did the Spanish women in 2018. It was through the prominence of women that the first March against Trump took place in the US in 2017. Only in the last month did we also have the victory of the Irish, a very Catholic and quite conservative country. In Chile, students have occupied schools and universities to report harassment. This year, Luciana Genro and I were able to participate in the “March 8” march in Chile that brought together more than 150,000 women.

All this shows that this wave is unstoppable and needs to be further enhanced. We argue that this movement represents the interests of 99% of the world’s population and that it is placed against the 1% of privileged owners who control the politics, the economy and the bodies of women around the globe. For this, we need to show solidarity to the struggle of the Argentine sisters. We must help to multiply this Green Tide and that this example helps us to face the conservatism of Brazil. This was only the first round. And our sisters will have all our solidarity to overcome this battle also in the Senate.

SÂMIA BOMFIM: “We want to follow the Argentine ‘hermanas’ who managed to win public opinion in their country”

The approval of the legalization of abortion in the Argentine Congress is a direct consequence of the rise of the international feminist movement. Such a movement has presented itself to the world with a series of demands and guidelines, such as the right to the body and to life, in the struggle against violence and the various expressions of machismo. The legalization of abortion has been at its core. We recently recorded a similar conquest in Ireland through a plebiscite. There the debate made by women was greater than any conservative composition of Congress. The struggle of women has not yielded to any pressure of fundamentalism. This has given a lot of encouragement to the women’s movement in 2018.

Here in Brazil, the Feminist Spring was expressed with great force mainly from 2015. The pattern of sexual and reproductive rights was the catalyst of a mobilization of girls and young women, who had already been rehearsing in schools and universities through the formation of numerous feminist collectives in recent years. It all started there with the March of the Vadias. In 2015, the Feminist Spring overflowed in Brazil in the fight against Eduardo Cunha, a political struggle calling for the resignation of the president of the Federal Chamber, one of the country’s biggest corrupt. This mobilization was also against the PL 5069 that vetoed the access to the “morning-after pill” for the victims of rape, which pushed back the legislation on abortion in Brazil.

Since then we had many mass marches, which brought together tens of thousands of women, with concomitant acts by Brazil. The main guideline of the Brazilian women’s movement has been the fight against violence, whether sexual or even in the form of feminicide. The pattern of abortion, in turn, is gaining increasing support mainly among younger girls. They undergo minor pressures of a state conservatism or religious taboos. They are more receptive, there is a way of life more liberal in customs and more progressive in ideas.

In this context, the women of the PSOL protocolamos a resource in the Supreme Federal Court for the decriminalization of abortion in Brazil. In August of this year, the hearings will begin so that the pros and cons of this proposal will be discussed. This can be a concrete agenda that takes Brazilian women to the streets.

Our responsibility, as activists of the feminist movement in Brazil and councilor in São Paulo – capital that gathered tens of thousands of women in the recent manifestations of the Feminist Spring -, is to follow the example of the Argentines and strengthen the struggle of the women so that the legalization of abortion can also be approved in the STF. In Brazil, one of the few countries in South America where the legalization debate is still very late. Therefore, this issue is also important in this year’s elections. We are committed to raising in this process one of the main flags of world feminism.

In Brazil, every two days a woman dies as a result of a clandestine abortion. It is estimated that 1/4 of the women have already performed an abortion at some stage of their life. Even, according to DataSus data, the average profile of women who abort are white, middle class, 25 to 35 years old, married and with children. This shows that reality is far from the stigma spread among common sense. It is generally believed that those who abort are promiscuous women. In fact, abortion is a reality for most women.

Misinformation perpetuates the mortality of women. Talking about abortion is, in reality, a commitment to life, mainly of black and poor women – most of those who die with clandestine abortion. Those who have better financial conditions, in general, get expensive clinics in more adequate health conditions. Therefore, the pattern of legalization of abortion refers to the right of women to their own bodies and to choose their destiny.

In this way, the mobilization of the Argentines and their recent conquest in Congress are very important for the development of this struggle in Brazil. We intend to accompany in loco the vote in the Senate to learn closely how the movement of Argentine women reached such a high level of mobilization. We want to follow the Argentine hermanas [sisters] who managed to double public opinion in their country. We hope that your struggle will be victorious, which can be decisive for all women in Latin America.


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