By Jonathon Van Maren
As most of you know, last week the senate of Argentina rejected the legalization of abortion, triggering a wave of outrage from abortion activists and wild celebration from the thousands of Argentinian pro-lifers packing the streets of Buenos Aires. Abortion activists began chucking fire-bombs and trashing whatever they could get their hands on, bringing out the riot police with fire hoses. The contrast between the two reactions was stark and illuminating.
Over the past week, I’ve worked to get in touch with pro-life activists working on the ground in Argentina, and got in contact with Camila Duro, a 24-year-old pro-lifer working for the organization Frente Joven. The pro-life NGO has many projects, but one of their key initiatives is their “Densores de Mamás,” which according to their website “seeks to reduce maternal and infant mortality by addressing its main causes, providing support to women with pregnancies at risk and their children.” Frente Joven was one of the leading pro-life organizations fighting the legalization of abortion, and Camila Duro was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Which pro-life organization do you work for?
I work at Frente Joven, which is a Non-Governmental-Organization. We have different ways of action: Our social work is focused in pregnant mothers and kids in a situation of vulnerability, and our political work aims to [exercise an] influence in different stages of public participation. We are connected with deputies, senators, ministers and other functionaries.
What is the pro-life movement in Argentina like?
The pro-life movement is especially passionate. We have seen the past weeks how people defend life with all their hearts. Also, our movement is very diverse, actually, It was very difficult to link every single organization to work together. We started to call everyone and we found “Unidad Provida” (“Pro-life Unity”) as a league.
How did the pro-life movement mobilize and respond to the bill to legalize abortion?
We work across three lines of action. We mobilized people by [a] “Citizen Action” work team. Their goal was to create awareness in ordinary people about the [pending] law and to make [it] visible that we are the majority, but a silent majority. We started the phenomenon of “The Light-Blue Wave” to show our position: Our slogan is “Save both lives.”
The second line of action was to communicate our ideas in the mass media and social networks. Our message was to put our eyes on the reality: We can save both lives, and reduce maternal mortality by other actions [than abortion]. We really want to prevent abortion and its consequences. Our poor women and most women are truly against abortion, and to make [that] visible that was our goal. It was a really positive message, and we got many to see it through the media and the social networks. Also, we were [a] worldwide trending topic with the hashtag “#SoyProvida” (I’m pro-life).
Finally, third line of action was to [exercise] influence politically, showing our deputies and senators our arguments and teaching them to defend life, [and] also to propose another solutions. Most people were absolutely against [these] policies, so we showed them the reality of [what] our citizens [really wanted.]
How did the Argentinian people respond to your efforts?
The people responded very well. We had about 3 million people in the streets at many opportunities. Our provinces were [able to] mobilize huge crowds, and senators [then] feel the pressure to not fail them.
Is there much support in Argentina for keeping abortion illegal?
Yes. The city which has more pro-abortion people is Buenos Aires, but it’s very different in the rest of the country, even in capital cities. Approximately the 60% of Argentinians are against abortion in all cases.
The media gave very little coverage to the pro-life movement. What story would you like the pro-life world to be aware of?
First, it is possible to reject abortion. Second, we don’t have to be afraid to speak out loud. Pro-life people are more silent and many times we think that everyone is pro-abortion, but it’s not true. Third, [the] media didn’t show serious specialists–they wanted famous celebrities speaking about things that they didn’t manage very well. It’s very difficult to oppose people who are used to the cameras, but it’s possible.
Are you preparing for the abortion activists to try to legalize abortion again next year?
Actually, we have a bigger problem right now. Our president is trying to legalize abortion by judicial regulations, which are unconstitutional in Argentina. Their plan is to decriminalize first in the reform of the criminal code (which will be on treatment in a few days), and then look for a criminal case of abortion to legalize it through the Supreme Court of Justice. We are reorganising to reject abortion again.