Argentina's women rights groups have started a two-day campaign on social media and in the streets demanding the legalization of abortion as a preparation for a bigger mobilization planned on March 8, International Women's Day.
On social media, feminists made the hashtag #AbortoLegalYa viral between 12 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Tuesday, before marching towards the Congress at 6 p.m.
Women are demanding legal and free access to abortion, arguing that the first cause of woman's mortality in the country is medical complications resulting from abortions carried out secretly in unsafe conditions, according to the official estimate by the Health Ministry.
The Ministry estimates between 300,000 and 500,000 abortions in the country every year.
Under Argentine law, abortions are considered illegal except in cases when the pregnancy poses a danger to the woman’s life or health, or when pregnancies are the result of rape, incest and other forms of abuse.
In 2007, a bill proposing the decriminalization of abortion was presented to lawmakers with the support of over 350 social organizations. Although the bill has been accumulating more and more signatures since then, from legislators belonging to a wide range of political parties, it was never approved in legislative commissions.
President Mauricio Macri's administration implemented massive budget cuts in the National Program of Integral Sexual Education, as well as to teacher training programs, while the price of a box of misoprostol — a drug more and more commonly used to provoke safe abortions — skyrocketed during Macri's term, from over US$40 in November 2015 to US$170 in 2017.
The femicide of a 14-year-old pregnant girl in Argentina last year gave rise to the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One Less) movement that saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to demand an end to gender-based violence.
The U.N. Population Fund reported that eight percent of women’s deaths worldwide are because of unsafe abortions. In Latin America and Africa, roughly 25 percent of all abortions are considered unsafe and performed under substandard conditions.