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'Conversations outside the cathedral': the epic of the fight for abortion rights in Colombia

2024-02-21T05:03:28.367Z

Highlights: 'Conversations outside the cathedral': the epic of the fight for abortion rights in Colombia. Two years after the historic ruling that decriminalized abortion until the 24th week, a new book narrates the several silenced battles that allowed the final victory. The diverse chorus guides the long road to victory: defeats, strategies, unexpected turns, debates, divisions, betrayals. But also an exceptional degree of solidarity, a feminist way of working that is “collective and advances against egos and vanities”


Two years after the historic ruling that decriminalized abortion until the 24th week, a new book narrates the several silenced battles that allowed the final victory


There is a story by Borges in which a warrior states that “the clearest feats lose their luster if they are not praised in words.”

That is to say, there is no immortal victory without a poet to narrate what has been won, or every hero passes into oblivion without a good storyteller.

This Wednesday marks two years of a historic victory for the Colombian feminist movement, the decriminalization of abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy, the longest period in Latin America, and at the same time a book appears that tries to tell the epic story well:

Conversations Outside the Cathedral

, published this month by Penguin Random House.

“One thing that happens to many of us, feminists, is that we work and fight, but we are not, in parallel, putting together our log for history,” admits in the book Ana Cristina González Vélez, doctor and pioneer of the Just Cause movement. .

“I think men have been more aware of the value of telling the story and that is a shame,” she adds.

It's time to put together the log, fight for your place in history, tell the feat better.

As Argentine novelist Claudia Piñeiro describes it, this is a book about “the memory of the Colombian green tide.”

Conversations outside the Cathedral

is a book of interviews that journalist Laila Abu Shihab has done with González and her closest colleague, Cristina Villarreal, who for years ran one of the few safe centers for women seeking an abortion in Bogotá:

Guide me

.

“We did a lot of partnership, Cristina from the perspective of services and I closely linked to the feminist movement, to advocacy, we were like two faces in one body,” says González about Villareal.

Between the voices of the two Cristinas, those of more activists, lawyers, congressmen, reggaeton singers or famous actresses who were fundamental to the victory are mixed.

Some men are there too, but mostly women.

The diverse chorus guides the long road to victory: defeats, strategies, unexpected turns, debates, divisions, betrayals.

But also an exceptional degree of solidarity, a feminist way of working that is “collective and advances against egos and vanities,” writes the journalist.

Ana Cristina González, during a feminist mobilization, in Bogotá.Victoria Holguín from Causa Justa

The first thing that

Conversations Outside the Cathedral

tries to do is give credit to those who don't have it.

For example, to university professor and sociologist Lucero Zamudio, who led the first ambitious study on abortion in Colombia in 1994, which revealed that induced abortion was the second cause of maternal mortality.

“That study was never repeated, not of that magnitude and with that depth,” says González.

Another example was the politician Iván Marulanda Gómez, who as a constituent tried to have the right to abortion included in the new Magna Carta of 1991. “Friends, it is the right of Colombian women to give birth to children as a result of love and commitment, and “It is the right of Colombia's children to be born surrounded by love and protection,” Marulanda told his colleagues in the Constituent Assembly.

He was defeated: 25 votes in favor, 40 against, 3 abstentions.

Congress has since had several initiatives to regulate abortion.

None have prospered.

There are no protagonists in the fight for the right to abortion, but there are key characters.

Mónica Roa, lawyer who in 2006 achieved decriminalization in three cases.

Or Sandra Mazo, who is committed to ending the guilt of abortion by leading Catholics for the Right to Decide.

For Cristina Villarreal, however, the key person was her father: Jorge Villarreal Mejía, a gynecologist who started a medical movement in favor of family planning, and who founded Oriéntame in 1977. “I learned everything with my father,” her daughter now says. , one of the leaders of Causa Justa and the movement that precedes it, The Table for the Life and Health of Women.

Cristina Villareal. COURTESY

But

Conversations Outside the Cathedral

is also a book about uncomfortable conversations.

The tensions that existed among feminists, for example, after Roa's victory in 2006, either because of what they perceived as her excessive prominence or because of her strategy: she did not point to decriminalization but to exceptions on three grounds.

“They criticized us and said that what we asked for was very little and were only crumbs of justice,” says Roa.

The women of La Mesa por la Vida y la Salud seem not to be afraid of getting into increasingly complicated debates.

A debate that they cannot resolve together, for example, is how to regulate the right to abortion when there is malformation of the fetus, because “any effort in this regard reinforces stereotypes and aggravates discrimination against people with disabilities,” says González.

“There was a time when we decided that every month or every two months, I don't remember well, we would choose a topic of discussion among ourselves to ask each other uncomfortable questions,” says Villareal.

“One of those issues was abortions of female fetuses in India.

At first, that generates a very strong reaction.”

You have to read the book to know how they solved that one.

The protagonists are clear about the epic, so

Conversations outside the Cathedral

is a book, above all, for those who got lost along the way.

But also to warn the unsuspecting.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the ruling that guaranteed women this right to abortion for decades, and governments like that of the new president of Argentina promise the same path.

In Colombia the so-called 'pro-life' groups—the Cristinas correct and ask to identify them as 'anti-rights'—continue to seek their victory against the right to abortion.

In feminism, victory is not completely achieved, because the fight is transformed.

“I don't know if one day, I hope so, in a few decades, this conversation will seem very strange to those who live at that time, it will seem incomprehensible to them that a crime like abortion existed,” says one of the protagonists of this book. .

“I am convinced that there is no moment when the fight ends,” says the other.

The conversation, for now, continues.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2024-02-21

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