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Clara Ferreira Marques

Ireland and Latin America Can Inspire the US Abortion Fight

An imminent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade must be a catalyst for more broad-based US activism. Campaigns in other countries provide a model.

Ireland points the way.

Ireland points the way.

Photographer: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

For decades, activists across the world have looked to Roe v. Wade, the landmark US ruling on abortion, as a model worthy of emulation. With the Supreme Court now set to overturn that decision, roles need to reverse: US rights groups must now turn to successful campaigns in Latin America and in Ireland for inspiration and advice on mobilizing voters, galvanizing legislators and widening support.

The impact of these popular movements is hard to overestimate. The Latin American marea verde, or green wave, emerged in Argentina in response to high rates of violence against women with the Ni Una Menos campaign, or Not One Less, and mass street protests. It expanded to include a demand for legal and safe abortions, and took its name from the green scarves women began to wear — an echo of the white ones worn by the mothers of Plaza de Mayo, icons of resistance and social protest against dictatorship. It spread, and breakthroughs followed in Uruguay, Argentina itself, MexicoEcuador. Catholic and socially conservative Colombia has just decriminalized abortion during the first 24 weeks.