Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Yesterday, December 30, Argentina became the largest country in Latin America to legalize abortion. After 12 hours of debate — and a grueling decades-long battle between the nation’s progressive and conservative factions — the bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 38 to 29.
Abortion rights advocates gathered outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires. In anticipation of the momentous decision, they erupted into city-wide festivities, flaunting bright green scarves and face paint to show their support for reproductive rights. The emerald hue has become emblematic of the pro-choice movement in Argentina, where tens of thousands of women suffer adverse health effects from a lack of access to safe abortions, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and rural areas. In 2016, 39,025 women were admitted to public hospitals for complications arising from clandestine abortions, 6,400 of whom were girls and teenagers aged 10 to 19.
Unlike previous laws, which allowed abortion only in cases where pregnancy implies a serious medical risk or in cases of rape, the new legislation allows elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, supported by the center-left President Alberto Fernández, was the ninth in the last 15 years to address abortion laws in Argentina and comes on the heels of a failed attempt for abortion legalization in 2018.
Amanda Cotrim, a Brazilian photographer based in Buenos Aires, took to the city’s streets yesterday to document an unforgettable milestone in the nation’s history. In panoramic images, thousands of people flood the streets chanting or playing music.
More intimate depictions and close-ups are testaments to moments of individual joy and relief. A woman clad in head-to-toe green stands by a hot dog stand featuring little green signs. One person wears green hotpants printed with the slogan of the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion: “Sex education for choice, contraception to prevent abortion, legal abortion to prevent death.”
“In these photos, you can sense the climate among those who were in favor of the bill,” Cotrim told Hyperallergic. “Many mothers, with their children; white, Indigenous, Latin American. They sang and danced. Although most of the demonstrators were young, between 18 and 30 years old, there was a great number of older women who supported the legislation.”
“It was a mixture of strength and tenderness,” Cotrim added.