Argentina has announced they will drop criminal charges against women accused of having abortions.
This announcement gives a lot of hope to poor and marginalized women facing these criminal sanctions. This is a great win for women’s rights in Argentina and the campaigners who have been fighting for this movement. However, problems still exist and these women are just getting started fighting for their rights. Obstetric violence and sexism in the justice system is still prevalent and reproductive justice in Argentina is far from over.
A new law, passed on December 30th, allows abortion for any reason during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy making Argentina the largest country in Latin America to allow the procedure. It covers anyone with the ability gestate to have an abortion and includes transgender and non-binary people.
It’s a major win for women’s rights in a region where the Catholic church has a very strong influence. The church has long had its hand in the judicial system and politics of Argentina. Most women in Argentina did not spend years in prison due to an abortion, however, that’s not the case for everyone. There are stories where women were put in prison for three or more years after suffering a miscarriage and being forced to get an abortion.
The lack of healthcare available for these women caused many to resort to alternative methods for abortion. Many of these methods were considered “back alley abortions” as they weren’t able to turn to modern hospitals for support. The hospitals in the area were required to report any and all abortions, or miscarriages, to the authorities.
At this point it is unclear how many women will have their cases dismissed based on this new law but many are speculating it should be well over 2,000 women as not all provinces released this public information and currently they have around 1,500 women’s cases that will be considered.
At the time of writing, campaigners have moved on from fighting for abortion rights to fighting for commuting sentences for women who were put in prison for murder because of their abortion. There are several women who have been publicly shamed and put into prison for homicide after experiencing pregnancy complications beyond their control. Many of these women were from more conservative provinces of Argentina, like in the northern parts of Argentina.