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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