Legitimising reproductive decisions: a gesture in support of freedom and dignity
by Agustina Ramón Michel, Silvina Ramos, Mariana Romero
Perfil, 18 March 2018
Perfil published a report on 18 March 2018 of an opinion poll on abortion by Amnesty Argentina as well as the following blog, which discusses the results. The blog was originally in Spanish. Below is a translation into English of the summary of the blog with the original Spanish summary. The background to this news can be found here, here, and here.
The debate on the decriminalisation and legalisation of abortion comes to the Congress at an auspicious moment: a large majority of people have heard news reports on abortion in recent days and more than half know about the imminent legislative debate. There is support for increasing the grounds for legal abortion and taking abortion out of the Penal Code, and more than half of people surveyed agree that abortion should be legal and the woman’s decision.
The results of this survey show that society recognises women’s need to terminate their pregnancies in conditions that do not jeopardise their lives and health. Women in the global North almost never die from abortion, but women in Argentina do. Abortion is safe when carried out in good conditions. Deaths from abortion are not an event of nature against which we are powerless: avoiding the majority of these maternal deaths and risks to health is possible; and reform of the law is key. Let us finish with the high cost of clandestine abortion.
But current support from society for the decriminalisation of abortion is not only a response to the public health reasons. There is something more. Until a few years ago, to call yourself a feminist or make a feminist argument, was seen as something against our culture. Today this is no longer the case, as was shown in the 8th March demonstrations. The feminist spirit was expressed in ideas such as that each person can decide how to live their own sexuality and can decide whether, how and when to have children. Thus, in supporting decriminalisation, the question arises: If it is not each woman’s own decision… who else should be able to decide whether she should continue or terminate her pregnancy? This question is a gesture against an ethic of violence and against the imposition of religious beliefs, fear, ignorance and stereotypes. It is a gesture in favour of freedom and dignity.
The criminalisation and restrictions on access to abortion were a source of much noise, and although it has taken a long time, the debate has finally come to the Congress. We need a law that will legalise the reproductive decisions of those who are pregnant who, as free citizens, assume responsibility for their lives; we also need a bill that provides certainty to health professionals so that they can play their most important roles: to support women’s decisions and promote their well-being, provide timely and good quality care, and contribute to the concrete expression of rights.
This blog is also available in Spanish here.