Student Opinion: A Harrowing Fight for Women’s Rights in 2020

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

By Michelle Moreno

Despite the many challenges 2020 has brought, Argentina has officially become the largest Latin American country to legalize abortions –– an overdue accomplishment for women in Argentina who have fought a lengthy war for their rights. 

After the Senate voted 38 in favor and 29 against the law, women are slowly gaining more control and rights over their bodies. It’s despicable that women still have to fight their government for rights that dictate their bodies’ wellbeing. Although the law passed and women now hold partial central control over their future, 29 of the senators thought otherwise. 

Those who voted against the law still believe that women don’t have the right to control decisions over their bodies because of the controversial debate about pro-life matters. Shockingly, women are forced to fight for their rights and endure years of oppression, while men are undoubtedly handed their rights from birth. 

The idea that women have to prove themselves and put up a fight against entire governments is mind-blowing, yet not surprising for a society built on gender-inequality. Women are constantly silenced and encouraged to follow the rules or suffer the consequences and wrath of those who enforce them. It’s atrocious that women have been fighting for rights over their bodies as if it’s a piece of property, something that should undoubtedly belong to them is sadly still debated and shared. 

Images have been pouring in from different sources of women hugging each other and sobbing. One common theme was apparent: relief. 

These images are emotional and raw. They tell the stories of generations of women who have continuously fought for their rights –– rights that many considered women were undeserving of. A battle against the right to have a job or vote has evolved into a war composed of women fighting for the right to govern their own bodies. 

The criminalization of women’s bodies has been alarming for years. Women were turned into criminals if they sought abortion illegally or defended themselves “excessively” from anyone trying to take advantage of their bodies. 

Cyntoia Brown was categorized as a criminal instead of a victim for killing her rapist. People never focused on the violence and traumatizing, emotional damage she endured from her rapist; instead, she was punished for a situation she had no control over. 

During the celebration, a common trend arose from men thinking that they deserve and have the right over a woman’s body. 

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took to Twitter to express that Brazil will never legalize abortions as long as he’s in office. It’s people like him that use the excuse of ‘protecting children’ to defend their opinions. Yet, the hundreds of homeless and starving children in their country are no longer their priority after birth. 

My problem with anti-abortion rights activists is that they only focus on a woman’s body during pregnancy yet turn a blind eye when these mothers are forced to have children they can’t financially maintain, along with other various underlying reasons. Many of these activists believe children deserve rights, even as a fetus, yet don’t do much to help the millions of starving families in Latin or third world countries. 

The problem is women are defined by their bodies and aren’t encouraged to defend themselves against the government or anyone deemed a threat. Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina and an ambassador for the global women’s rights movement, believes this law will give more women and girls hope for the future. 

I hope this encourages other advocates for women’s rights in Latin American countries to continue fighting for what’s right. As a woman, I know the fight seems infinite and discouraging, yet we must remind ourselves that advocates before us paved the way for more change, and we must continue to honor their fight. 

Women and their families are left to deal with the aftermath of unwanted pregnancies, yet it’s women who are legally forced to go through a process they never agreed to. Today, I celebrate the hundreds of activists now and before me who have made these accomplishments possible. I hope Argentina continues to fight for their women and shows them they’re not alone during this war.

Michelle Moreno is a fourth-year majoring in English and minoring in Chicano Studies. She is from Downtown Los Angeles.

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  1. Tia Will


    Thanks for the article centering on women’s medical rights in Argentina.

    I would like to broaden the topic a bit. For centuries this format of  1/2 the population (men) having control over the other 1/2 the population ( women) has been a cross-cultural theme in most of the world’s societies.

    True the manifestations are different, from not being allowed outside one’s home without a male escort ( UAE), to not being able to vote (until 1920), or have one’s own bank account ( variable by state), to not being considered for certain positions traditionally held by men, to medical autonomy in the US (ongoing). The excuses are different, from women not being strong enough smart enough, too emotional, to taking the place deserved by a man, to religious objections to the medical rights of others. But whatever the manifestation of the rationale for, the bottom line remains the same, men retaining control over women. With more women entering the public sphere, this has taken on a new form in the US. It is now a fight for who has the right to determine the medical care for women, the woman herself, or the government based on a religious or moral standard not universally agreed upon.

    I believe allowing the government to make these choices for individual women is a terrible error. Cannot any government that can prevent a woman from obtaining a medical procedure also dictate, in different circumstances, that she must have the procedure performed?

    With regard to these issues, I have two beliefs:

    1. It is unconscionable for 1/2 of the population to maintain the other 1/2 in a subordinate position.

    2. It is unconscionable for a government to dictate the medical rights of its citizens regardless of individual gender, race, religion, or other identifying characteristics.

    1. Bill Marshall

      determine the medical care for women, the woman herself, or the government based on a religious or moral standard not universally agreed upon.

      I believe in medical care for all women, all men…

      But, if you are talking about ‘abortion on request’… well, it take two to ‘tango’ … except for rape or incest, or medical threat to the woman, I believe there needs to be two ‘consents’… but I’m a dinosaur…

  2. Alan Miller

    A friend spent quite a lot of time in Argentina, and said everyone was white, at least in the cities.  I was like ???.  They said Argentina effective killed most of the native people or drove them into remote areas, and implied this was in stark contrast to Chili and most other South American countries and the country had a bit of a white supremacy vibe about it (and apparently a lot of Nazis fled to Argentina as they were welcomed there).

    I wonder if this white control / power is one reason this is “the largest Latin American country to legalize abortions”.  I also wonder if the women’s rights extend to the remaining native populations in the remote areas.  If you feel I’m totally wrong about the nature of Argentina please feel free to correct or give another version of the country as I’m only going by this one account.

    1. Hiram Jackson

      One way to think about Chile and Argentina is that each is sort of like the U.S. in that it is dominated by European immigrants, only they all speak Spanish now.  Immigrants arrived there at about the same time as they were arriving in the U.S., generally for similar reasons.  The area around Buenos Aires is dominated by Italian immigrants, and to me their Spanish accent sounds a little like someone speaking Spanish with an Italian accent.  Both Chile and Argentina have German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Palestinian and Balkan immigrant populations.  Each has a kind of ‘cowboy culture’ of their own.  You could probably walk around any major city in either country, and as long as you didn’t open your mouth, no one would think you weren’t from the country.

      1. Alan Miller

        Open your mouth, or wear stupid American ‘tourist’ closing.

        Do you have any opinion on my friend’s assertion above natives being wholesale wiped-out in Argentina in more of an ethnic cleansing sort of way than other countries.  Lord knows that applies to most countries including what US has done to its natives, though my friend implied is it was a bit more sinister and systematic in Argentina.  Like straight up ethnic cleansing.  I was surprised by his observations, and I know you have been there (I haven’t) so respect your opinion/observations.

        1. Hiram Jackson

          “Do you have any opinion on my friend’s assertion above natives being wholesale wiped-out in Argentina in more of an ethnic cleansing sort of way than other countries.”

          I’ve read & heard that, too, but I don’t know much beyond that for Argentina.  Chile has an independent (meaning not so assimilated, claiming an identity separate from Chilenos) indigenous population of Mapuche that live south of Santiago.

  3. Chris Griffith

    Atrocities in South America suck so why don’t we treat South America the same way we are treating Iran so that matter Korea?

    Treat everyone of those sleazy little countries the same way. If we stop all trade with Argentina completely I will guarantee you they would change their ways.

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