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The Right: the key to legalizing abortion in Latam?

The legalization of abortion in Argentina showed us that votes from right-wing parties can be the key to unlocking these projects throughout the region .

Handkerchief for the right to legal, safe and free abortion

The votes of the right-wing parties gave the endorsement for the legalization of abortion in Argentina. / Photo: Wikimedia-Martinbayo

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿La Derecha: la clave para la legalización del aborto en Latam?

Argentina passed the abortion law. The initiative, promoted by the Government of Alberto Fernández, aimed to transform clandestine abortion into a public health problem. The historic session took place after an arduous debate that first took place in society, and later became a political reality that is an "oasis" within Latin America, since the vote on the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (IVE) ended with 38 votes in favor to become law, with 29 opposition votes, 1 abstention and 4 absent.

In Latin America, this move was historically characterized as "progressive", as opposed to the conservatism that defends the "two lives" position. However, we have been shown that progressivism and conservatism are not necessarily encapsulated within what we know as "left" and "right", but that, within right-wing spaces, precisely, there are many positions in favor of legalization.

For example, deputies like Fernando Iglesias or María Graciela Ocaña, belonging to the PRO of the "Argentine right", showed favorable positions towards the IVE, differentiating themselves from many other views within the political space. The same happened with other right-wing senators, such as Martín Lousteau or Gladys González, who were key to the support of this new policy that will surely tour Latin America. 

The right wing and abortion

Broadly speaking, Latin America has quite a few prohibitions regarding abortion, even in cases where exceptions are not contemplated. For example, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Haiti stand out. The remaining nations have more or less restrictive legislation, where abortion is decriminalized, for example, in situations where the life or health of the pregnant woman is in danger, among others.

The truth is that the green tide is a feminist movement that is having a full impact in our region. Precisely, in The New York Times they indicated that Argentina's political decision will travel throughout Latin America, since it was possible to face the limits imposed by the political system, in such a way that it becomes an inspiration for the entire continent, but also transcending the political "barriers" of the left and right.

For this reason, for example, many Chilean women hope that sooner or later this law will be promulgated in their country, something similar to what happens in Colombia. The same applies to Mexico, which only has 2 states where this practice is allowed without restrictions: Mexico City and Oaxaca. Precisely, all these countries must take into account one thing: their right-wing political spaces could have representatives who are not necessarily conservative and who, on the contrary, think that abortion is a necessary policy for the nation.

In other words, historically, the Latin American left has been seen as a progressive force in social terms. The result of Argentina demonstrated a reality that, at times, the sectors of the left do not seem to recognize: the right is necessary to transform society through policies, especially if these blocks have a large number of people in the chambers. They cannot be dispensed with when they are persuaded to vote, nor can they be generalized as "conservative" or "progressive" simply because they belong to a party.

Also read: This is what happened after some countries legalized abortion

In this sense, Latin America must understand that this issue, being so controversial, does not have to do with partisanship, but with individual wills and thoughts. Within a coalition considered "conservative" in general terms, such as Juntos por el Cambio in Argentina, there are also voices that were expressed in favor of this project, showing that even within the right there may be votes in favor, since it important is the thinking of each legislator and not of the bloc, as in other matters (economic, for example).

Each senator has his own vision regarding the economy or society, for example, but it was understood that abortion is a unique issue that cannot be divided into the classic "left" and "right" dilemma. There are political figures who, for example, support the right-wing economy, but who decided to open themselves to the possibility of understanding that abortion is a matter of public health and not of religion. You necessarily depend on the right to achieve these kinds of policies, since, if the entire right were conservative, it would be very difficult to legalize it.

If the green tide wants to spread throughout Latin America, it must be understood that generalization is never good. On the contrary, spaces historically associated with conservatism could come as surprises due to the individual thoughts on abortion of each legislator, which are not necessarily related to the party they represent. In short, the more we know who we vote, the fewer surprises we will get in the room, since the debate is in individual terms and not in partisan blocs of the left or right, since both are fundamental to sanction the law, as happened in Argentina .