“The framing around the abortion rights campaign in Ireland was about compassion and how Ireland must be the compassionate face of Europe,” said Marie Berry, a University of Denver political scientist who has studied the campaign. Irish. “Which is more compassionate than the UK, as the UK has become increasingly conservative, especially under the Tory government. That we are in the EU, we represent a progressive Europe “.
But the key to the movement’s success may have been the combination of that attractive message with the organizational experience of more radical feminist groups. “What shocked me when I was doing research with activists was that actually the organizing node of the entire ‘Repeal the 8th’ abortion rights campaign came from anarcho-feminist movements, which were more rooted in environmental movements than to the liberal movement for women’s rights, “said Dr. Berry.” Most of the people who voted for him, of course, were not affiliated with the more left-wing organizational nodes. But this was really the heart of the movement that has made it possible”.
In Argentina, the Ni Una Menos (“Not One Less Woman”) movement has also combined a sustained, long-term organization with framing that places the right to abortion in the broader context of a just society, presenting the lack access to safe and legal abortion as only part of the larger problem of violence against women. A 2018 bill to legalize the procedure failed, but in 2020 the country legalized abortion, making Argentina the largest country in Latin America to do so.
In the United States, by contrast, legal abortion has been the status quo since the 1973 Roe decision, making it a difficult target for that kind of sustained mass organization.
“I think that the indigenous mobilization, some of the more progressive types of racial justice, Occupy, all the left nodes within those movements, did not center abortion in their defense because it was, constitutionally, more or less a problem. solved by the 1970s, “Berry said. And for other organizations focused on the intersection of reproductive rights with race and class, “abortion has always been there, but it’s not the only demand,” she said.
Centrist organizations and democratic politicians, by contrast, have often framed abortion as a matter of unfortunate but necessary health services that should be “safe, legal and rare” and have focused activism on access issues. This was often vital for women in rural areas or states whose stringent regulations had made abortion essentially unavailable in practice, but it did not generate the kind of identity-based mass attraction that has been effective in countries like Ireland. .