(CTN News) – The streets of cities across Latin America were awash in a sea of green on International Safe Abortion Day as tens of thousands of women marched to commemorate the occasion.
These impassioned demonstrations, led by Latin American feminists who have spent decades advocating for change, sought to highlight the urgent need to roll back strict abortion prohibitions in the region.
While significant progress has been made in some countries, the fight for reproductive rights remains far from over.
Additionally, the marches drew attention to the alarming rates of gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities, reinforcing the message that the struggle for equality is multifaceted.
The Symbolic Green Wave
Green smoke wafted over the boisterous crowds of women who thronged the streets of Mexico City, each waving a green handkerchief—a symbol synonymous with Latin America’s “green wave” abortion movement.
Signs bearing slogans such as “It’s my decision” and “Free and safe abortions for everyone” punctuated the sea of green.
At the heart of these protests was the issue of abortion, but the demonstrators also voiced concerns about gender-based violence and the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Mexico’s Momentous Milestone
In Mexico, the mood was celebratory, thanks to a recent landmark decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court to decriminalize abortions at the federal level.
This groundbreaking ruling, which declared national laws prohibiting the procedure unconstitutional and a violation of women’s rights, will mandate federal health institutions to provide abortion services upon request.
Although abortion bans still exist in 20 Mexican states, the Supreme Court’s decision represents a significant stride towards reproductive freedom in a nation with deeply rooted religious and conservative values.
The Role of Latin American Feminists
The Latin American feminist movement has played a pivotal role in the fight for reproductive rights. Mexico City became the first jurisdiction in Mexico to decriminalize abortion 15 years ago, setting a precedent for the region.
Argentina followed suit in 2020, legalizing the procedure, and in 2022, Colombia, despite its conservative stance, took the same path.
Brazil is now poised to potentially decriminalize abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation, pending a decision by the nation’s Supreme Court.
As Fernanda Castro, an organizer at GIRE, notes, “The green wave is going to keep growing, and (Brazilian women) are not alone.”
Challenges and Unease in Argentina
While many Latin American countries are making strides towards reproductive rights, Argentina’s situation is marked by unease.
As the October elections approach, concerns arise that the progress made in recent years may be reversed with the ascent of right-wing presidential candidate Javier Milei.
Milei has openly opposed abortion, compulsory sex education in schools, and free medical coverage for sex change treatments. He has even promised a referendum to repeal the decriminalization of abortion nationwide, a milestone achieved in 2022.
Safeguarding Hard-Earned Rights
Argentinian women, however, remain resolute in their determination to protect their hard-earned rights. Despite the uncertainty, they are committed to upholding the gains made through years of relentless activism.
As Sara Rivas, an art student, emphasized, “Our answer is that we are here. We are not going to leave the streets because these gains, we conquered them in the streets.”
The International Safe Abortion Day marches in Latin America have illuminated both the progress made in the fight for reproductive rights and the ongoing challenges that women face.
While the “green wave” continues to swell, it is evident that the struggle for gender equality is far from over.
Latin American feminists have proven their unwavering commitment to securing reproductive rights, and their determination will undoubtedly continue to drive progress in the years to come.