'It didn't happen today, but it will happen tomorrow' — Argentine abortion vote lost, but the movement is winning

'We won, because abortion is no longer taboo.'

Argentine activists and feminists organised in the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion have vowed to continue their fight after the Senate rejected the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Bill on August 8, TeleSUR English said.

This bill, passed by Congress in June, would have ended the criminalisation of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy within the first 14 weeks.

Ahead of the vote, in which the defeat was expected, Argentine activists flooded the streets across the country in their thousands. After the vote, TeleSUR English said the joy of those supporting a woman’s right to choose gave way to sadness and anger.

Meanwhile, anti-choice activists and Argentina’s Catholic Church celebrated the result. It means the status quo, in which abortions are legal only in cases of rape or danger to the woman’s life and health, prevails. Argentina’s health ministry estimates the abortion ban claims the lives of 100 women each year.

The bill can be resubmitted to Congress next March, but as 2019 is an election year, TeleSUR English said legislators may be unwilling to tackle a controversial issue.

Despite the defeat, a sense of hope prevails in Argentina’s increasingly powerful feminist movement, TeleSUR English reported.

Writing in Pagina12, journalist and feminist Mariana Carbajal said: “We won. A fervent youth that found in the green bandana [the symbol of the feminist movement] a symbol of equality imposed itself on archaic ideas.

“We won against the fundamentalists, because the sustainment of the Catholic Church by part of the state was exposed and called in question, as was the attempt by the Church hierarchy to influence public health and education policy...

“We won, because abortion is no longer taboo, it came out of the closet and has been socially decriminalised.

“We won, because mothers and grandmothers told their daughters and granddaughters about their abortions, because adolescents took the debate to their homes and schools.

“We won, because the world saw us and discovered that in Argentina women still do not have the right to choose over our bodies and we were shamefully exposed as a country where we still don’t have access from full citizenship.

“They never gifted us anything. To study in the universities, to have the right to vote, to be able to decide over the lives of our children, to have free access to contraceptives, we have always had to come out onto the streets and fight.

“Feminist struggles have pushed the boundaries. The votes we lacked to decriminalise and legalise abortion are little more than a pebble on the path.

“It didn’t happen yesterday. It will happen tomorrow.”

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