By Marina Abiuso
There were green scarves in the US Congress last week as a group of female lawmakers marched to the Senate to call for abortion to become law. There were also green flags and banners in the demonstrations this Saturday: more than 400 marches, meetings and “rallies” in different cities and states demanding that the Supreme Court uphold the court ruling that allowed the decriminalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in 1973 and that Until now, it has served as a legal umbrella at the national level.
It’s not official yet. The political escalation arose from the leaking of a draft that anticipates the intention of the court -now mostly conservative- to reverse an essential right for women almost half a century after having conquered it through the courts.
The green color is not a coincidence: the Argentine experience and the symbol of the Campaign for the Right to Abortion handkerchiefs have crossed borders. Green is used by feminisms in Mexico, green is the color of the protesters for the right to decide in Colombia. Now also in the United States.
Much more than a color
The scarf emerged at the National Meeting of Women in Rosario in 2003. It could have been purple, the traditional color of feminism, but there was not enough fabric. Among the pioneers there are conflicting versions, but many point to Marta Alanis, a member of the Catholics for the Right to Decide, as the person responsible for the chromatic decision that now travels the world.
The green scarf was an identification in favor of abortion even before it was widely recognized: few noticed in 2015 during the first massive demonstration of #NiUnaMenos but those who spoke (Maitena, Érica Rivas and Juan Minujín) used the Campaign’s scarf. In 2018, when the project reached Congress, the green became a “tide” and the massive demonstrations were international news.
A personal anecdote: in 2019 I traveled to Spain and had to give away the handkerchief that hung in my backpack in a bookstore in Madrid where the Peruvian saleswoman recognized the symbol. Something similar happened to me in Portugal.
“Sooner rather than later the green tide reached the United States. Green is the color of hope and representation of the struggle of the youth, women and diversity movement in Argentina and Latin America. We send green scarves to spread the energy and power of victory. We will not rest until abortion is legal throughout the world,” says Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina.
The scarves were received by different feminist and human rights organizations and later photographed in several protests last weekend. But the handkerchief is not all: the Argentine experience is serving as a guide in some of the approaches that seek to defend the right to decide beyond the position of the Supreme Court
ruling is not law
The ruling is Roe versus Wade and is from 1973. The woman identified with the pseudonym Roe could not access an abortion (she gave birth and the child was given up for adoption) but her case is the legal precedent that gave protection to the generations that came after . Until today.
“They have been plotting and carefully seeking this majority in the Supreme Court to get something that the majority of Americans do not want,” claimed Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren in a demonstration before the same Court. It is one of the policies that is now pressuring Congress to pass a federal law with a broader scope than the case law that now hangs in the balance.
“Certain sectors of activism realize that the argumentative and political frameworks that we have here in Latin America and in Argentina in particular are different and can be very useful,” explains Nayla Luz Vacarezza, researcher at Conicet-UBA. It is that the ruling in question was protected then in the right to privacy that is constitutionally protected.
“In Argentina, abortion rights activism raised the issue as a matter of social justice and human rights beyond individual decision. In the United States they are seeing the limits of a liberal citizenship that does not pay attention to the interconnection of rights. They are now thinking about the possibility in relation to other rights that have to do with democratic quality”, says Vacarezza.
As had happened with the Argentine Actresses, many artists took to the streets this weekend: Julia Louis-Dreyfus marked with a banner a phrase that her character in Seinfeld, Elaine, had said: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be available at ATMs; Cindy Lauper was also there with a reversal of her classic “girls just want to have fun” transformed into “they just want fundamental rights”. Fame put at the service of debate can achieve unique diffusion, as Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda, historical defenders of women’s rights, have already demonstrated.
The criticism is obvious: why didn’t the Democrats who are tearing their hair out today go for the law before judicially won rights were so obviously in jeopardy? The political factors are several and there is no coincidence. Yes, an urgency that the women’s movement seeks to promote throughout the world. Simone de Beauvoir said it before: “A political, economic or religious crisis will be enough for the rights of women to be questioned again. You must remain alert throughout your life.” The philosopher was not talking about the United States, but the phrase applies perfectly. Also in Argentina.