Case #2286.0

Winning Abortion Rights in Argentina: Building Blocks of a Long, Hard Fight

Publication Date: May 31, 2024
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After an uphill battle of many decades, abortion rights activists in Argentina won a stunning victory in 2020, when the National Congress approved a law that set out the legal right to free, safe, elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and thereafter when the pregnancy was the product of rape or when the life of the pregnant person was in danger. 

It was a remarkable turnaround in a country that had, for the previous century, been governed by a highly restrictive abortion policy. Until 2018, abortion was a taboo topic in much of society and a third rail” issue for elected officials, even those with a progressive voting record. But between 2018 and 2020, the politics of abortion changed in Argentina. How that change occurred is the topic of this multimedia case. Told in nine “chapters” of interspersed text and eight short videos (ranging in length from 2 to 13 minutes), the case features compelling accounts from prominent leaders in the movement alongside archival images and footage that bring the high emotion of the abortion debate to life

In particular, the case showcases issues of messaging and coalition building in the Argentina abortion rights movement. For example, the case describes the choice to place more emphasis on social justice issues than on women’s right to bodily autonomy. The case also describes the roles and interactions of a coalition of activists, spearheaded by a National Campaign to legalize abortion, but including a varied array of grassroots volunteers, legal activists, international advisers, feminist journalists and, finally, the mass mobilization of young people, widely credited with supplying the movement with a power and momentum that would ultimately prove unstoppable.  

Learning Objectives:
This political strategy case is both rich and flexible, and could be taught in a number of different settings. It is especially well-suited to support discussions about framing an argument, choosing venues (e.g., legislature vs. courts), and effective coalition work. It could also be used to look comparatively at the abortion movement in Argentina and in other countries, including the United States. It is not designed to support a policy debate about abortion per se.  

Other Details

Pamela Varley
Video Producer/Multimedia Developer:
Patricia Garcia-Rios
Faculty Lead:
Yanilda Gonzalez
Pages (incl. exhibits):