Pro-Choice Posters In Chile Spark A Crucial Dialogue

Walking through the barrio universitario in Santiago this week, I spotted dozens of new, colorful posters alongside the older, worn student protest banners. Protest art is far from uncommon in the neighborhood surrounding the University of Chile — students have spent most of the past two months on strike protesting for educational reform, and have decorated their neighborhoods appropriately. Yet, in the predominantly Catholic country, one thing certainly is uncommon: pro-choice art.

But, that’s exactly what I found outside the University of Chile: absolutely beautiful, and incredibly powerful, pro-choice artwork by the Brigada de Propaganda Feminista (Feminist Propaganda Brigade), sporting the hashtags #MisoPaTodas and #InfinitasCausales. Arguing that all women should have access to abortion medications (like Misoprostol) and that there are infinite reasons why a woman might choose an abortion, these posters are part of a larger feminist movement growing across the country. The #MisoPaTodas campaign began this past May when 19 feminist groups joined together on the International Day of Action for Women’s Health to raise awareness about safe forms of abortion. The campaign continued on July 25 when the Feminist Propaganda Brigade took to the streets with these posters to demand “un aborto libre, seguro y gratuito [legal, safe, and free abortions].”

Here’s a look at eight of the most moving, and visually stunning, pro-choice posters I spotted.

1. “Nosotras Abortamos Desde Tiempos Ancestrales”
We Have Aborted Since Ancestral Times

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Depicting a woman who is half ancient-Mapuche and half modern-student, this painting reminds viewers that abortion is far from new in Chile. Indeed, abortion was legal in Chile until 1989, when the conservative dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet banned the practice.

2. “Tu Propio Me Viola”
Your Catcall Violates Me

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Emphasizing that women face violence everyday — from catcalling and beyond — this poster plays with words to create a second meaning. While “me viola” in this context means you violated me, in many other cases it means to rape. Adding to the list of infinite reasons why women may choose abortion, this poster suggests that not all pregnancies result from consensual sex or the desire to have children. It’s a particularly timely argument since this past March, President Bachelet’s government introduced a bill that would allow women access to abortion in cases of rape, maternal health risk, or unviable fetus.

Though the bill has yet to pass in the Senate, it’s a huge gain for the pro-choice movement in Chile — one of many Latin American countries that currently completely ban access to safe abortions. Yet, feminist collectives like the Feminist Propaganda Brigade don’t think the bill goes far enough. “No creemos en la legalidad del proyecto de aborto en tres causales, que solo cubre a un 3% de las mujeres que abortan, ni en la supesta seguridad de los hospitals [We do not believe in the legality of abortion for three reasons, that only cover 3% of women who choose abortion, nor in the supposed security of hospitals].”

3. “No Más Prohibición. Abortemos Seguras Con Misoprostol. El 2009 Bachelet Lo Ilegalizó Y Con Nuestros Cuerpos Se Lucró.”
No More Prohibition. We Will Abort
Safely With Misoprostol.

In 2009, President Bachelet Made It Illegal And
Became Rich Off Our Bodies.

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Though President Bachelet introduced an abortion access reform bill into the Chilean congress this year, feminist groups like MisoPaTodas feel like she’s made a profit off of women’s bodies by limiting access to abortion-inducing medications. Though Misoprostol is named on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medications and works as an at-home abortion pill, it has been difficult to find in Chile ever since the Bachelet government prohibited its sale in pharmacies. As a result, women now looking to have an at-home abortion buy Misoprostol on the black market at high prices, where it’s often sold without a pharmacist’s instructions.

4. “Las Secundarias También Abortamos”
Highschoolers Abort, Too

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Appropriately timed with the student protests and located just outside the University of Chile, this poster announces that students choose abortions too. More notably though, it emphasizes that secondary school students also choose abortions. That’s all to say: Sometimes women under the Chilean legal age for abortion (18) choose to have abortions — they just don’t have legal access to safe ones. And as feminists, movements like this one want everyone to have the right to choose.

5. “Nosotras Abortamos Porque”
We Abort Because

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So many reasons. Infinite reasons. This poster encourages passersby to think about why they might choose an abortion, too: timing, health, career, stability, finances, desire for children, support — the list goes on.

6. “Aborta Al Sistema, Despenalización,
Úteros Libres!”
Abort The System, Decriminalize, Free Uteruses!

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Taking up the progressive rhetoric of other Chilean social movements, feminist groups like this one are encouraging people to think about women’s rights as part of a larger system of oppression. And they’re asking women, men, everyone, to dismantle that system — to free their bodies and decriminalize women’s choices.

7. “Mi Cuerpo Me Pertenece, Ni Una Gota De
Mi Sangre Es Tuya, Yo decido Sobre El, Y Qué?”
My Body Belongs To Me, Not One Drop
Of My Blood Is Yours,

I Choose What To do With It, And So What?

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That’s some incredible pro-choice language right there. Here, Chilean feminists are reaching out to global women’s reproductive health movements: crying out that women’s bodies belong to them and them alone, and whatever decisions they face are theirs to choose.

8. “Fuerza Mujer, Mujeres Con Todas Las Manos”
Female Strength, All Women In Arms

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You hear that? That’s the sound of Chilean feminists joining together, raising their fists, and demanding change. They know their strength, now they’re turning it into action.

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This article originally appeared on the Ms. Magazine blog and is reprinted here with permission.