By Mariela Belski, Executive Director of Amnesty International Argentina
Gaining the right to have an abortion is a victory of the society as a whole, propelled by the drive of the women’s movement. Six months into the historic approval of the law, many attempts have emerged from sectors who are against the abortion decriminalization and legalization, to obstruct in the courts a law which received a large support in the Congress. So far, these legal actions have been dismissed by the judges.
At Amnesty International, we monitor the level of compliance with Law number 27,610 and we detected 31 actions filed against it. At least 15 of them were deemed inadmissible. Additionally, the only two preliminary injunctions which sought to suspend the law were swiftly ruled out. The role of the Judiciary, as a guarantor of human rights, is to protect the rights of women; consequently, it is to be expected that the Judiciary maintains its position against the onslaughts to make the law null and void.
Protecting this law is essential. However, it is by no means the only challenge we have down the road. The State must ensure that the law becomes a reality for all women and persons of childbearing age across the country. Argentina’s jurisdictions go on being unequal: in rural areas or in areas far from urban centres there is still no availability of sexual and reproductive health services or trained staff.
Information is also a key input to take free decisions. Mass dissemination campaigns to help people become aware of their rights and the options available to them when deciding to terminate a pregnancy are still sorely missing. Additionally, quality statistical data covering all the country are also needed in order to have elements to assess the progress and the challenges in terms of the implementation of the law at a federal level. In this sense, it is essential that students have access to the Comprehensive Sex Education, as guaranteed by the law since 2006, irrespective of the school the students attend.
An additional claim is to have ANMAT, the National Administration of Drugs, Foods and Medical Technology authorise the manufacture and sale of mifepristone, a drug which, in combination with misoprostol, improves the effectiveness of the pregnancy termination and speeds up the process.
Likewise, it is crucial to boost the access to procedures of manual intrauterine aspiration, since almost all provinces continue performing curettage, a method less safe to access abortions and which should be reserved only for those cases where other options are not available.
The women’s movement has a lot to celebrate. Argentina pushed abortion away from clandestine settings thanks to the activism, the investigation and the invaluable public debates. The Government played a key role as they submitted the bill and garnered the political will; in turn, opposition leaders understood that supporting the bill was important because what was at stake was the human rights of women.
Now it is time to protect the right enshrined in the law and to ensure it becomes accessible to every woman and person of childbearing age across the country, despite the onslaughts by groups, already known to us, to get some judges to twist the will of the representatives of the people in Congress. When confronted with these onslaughts, Amnesty International, together with other organisations of the civil society, will continue to be active against the legal cases which seek to obstruct the right to terminate the pregnancy. The conservative movements did not succeed in stopping the divorce law, the same-sex marriage law or the gender identity law. The society conquered a new right and is not willing to go back on its steps. Half a year after that emotional night, the legal abortion is a human right of women and persons of childbearing age, and there is no turning back.