Campaign advocates for legalization of abortion in Argentina

By Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente  |  July 24, 2012 at 5:12 PM
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (GPI)-- Analía, 32, obtained a clandestine abortion five years ago in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. She declined to publish her last name because abortion is illegal in Argentina, under most circumstances. A short woman with short brown hair, Analía talks without smiling.

“Look, I began a relationship with a man, you know,” she says. “We went out for eight months. We ended when I got pregnant, rather, when we got pregnant. I didn’t make the baby alone, but he left me alone with the matter. After, he informed me that he was married. Nothing to do. He didn’t want to take reponsibility.” She says all he offered to do was to pay for the abortion. “He told me: ‘Don’t come to me with your problems,’” she says. “‘Tell me how much money you need and take care of it yourself.' It hurt me. I was in love, and I thought that we had a solid relationship.” Analía says that she decided to have an abortion because she couldn’t afford to raise the child alone. “I don’t have a high-level job,” says Analía, who works as an administrative employee at a local hospital. “I am an employee. I have never worked for much more than minimum wage. I don’t have higher studies. If I did have the baby, I was going to need economic, family and my partner’s support. I wasn’t capable of facing my family or anybody. I felt very alone.” Between speaking, Analía becomes serious, staring at one point on the floor with her eyes clear and open. Her voice then drops to a whisper as she begins to talk about the clandestine procedure.

“I was six weeks [pregnant] more or less,” she says. She found the doctor who performed the abortion through a contact at the hospital where she works. “There is always someone who knows where you can go,” she says, her voice as thin as she is. “I thought that I was going to die.” She says the room was “normal,” outfitted like a "salita," a clinic in remote areas that contain only the most basic supplies. “There, they did a suction on me,” she says. “It was a Sunday afternoon. It was a day with sun, but I saw everything gloomy.” She says that the father of the baby dropped her off but didn’t accompany her inside for the procedure. “He dropped me off there, and he left,” she says. “We never talked again.” With this experience still a vivid memory, Analía is one of many supporters here of a bill asking for legal, safe and free abortion in Argentina through the Proyecto de Ley de Interrupción Voluntaria del Embarazo. Analía recently attended a festival in support of the bill, the Festival Itinerante por el Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, held during the month of May at the city’s Centro de la Cooperación. On the day of the event, she arrived early and sat on the stairs outside, waiting for the doors to open. Local initiatives, like the festival, are generating awareness about a bill that would legalize abortion for all women in Argentina. Advocates say the law would reduce maternal mortality, while opponents are speaking out on behalf of the fetus’ rights. Advocates say they are encouraged by two laws passed by the Argentine National Congress this year that give people more control over their bodies. Some 500,000 illegal abortions take place in Argentina annually, according to the Campaña Nacional por el Derecho al Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito, the campaign that has united various organizations in support of the pending bill. In Argentina, 40 percent of pregnancies don't come to term, many ending voluntarily in clandestine clinics.

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