IN PHOTOS: Here’s how green became the colour of abortion rights

Click to play video: 'Abortion advocates protest outside U.S. Supreme Court after decision to overturn Roe v. Wade'
Abortion advocates protest outside U.S. Supreme Court after decision to overturn Roe v. Wade
Abortion advocates protested outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday as the nation’s top court revoked the constitutional right to abortion. – Jun 24, 2022

From the streets of Poland to crowds in Argentina, Mexico and, most recently, the United States following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights protests have something in common: the colour green.

Green banners, snapping in the air. Green scarves, green bandanas, green shirts.

Green smoke, billowing in clouds through packed crowds as women and men fight for the right to make decisions about what is best for their bodies, families and futures.

But why the colour green?

People protest about abortion, Friday, June 24, 2022, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber). AP Photo/Steve Helber
Abortion-rights activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana). AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a protest following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, at Washington Square Park, Friday, June 24, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura). AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura
An abortion rights protester arranges a bandana following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the federally protected right to abortion, in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe). AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

The most recent demonstrations bedecked in the colour green are those taking place across the United States in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court case that established a constitutional right to abortion in that country.

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It was during protests in Latin America, not the United States, where a hallmark of the abortion rights fight was born, and where it has continued to gain momentous political force over recent years.

According to both the Washington Post and the French newspaper Le Monde, the origin dates back to demonstrations in the late 1970s in Argentina, when the families of people who disappeared under the country’s military dictatorship wore white scarves during protests outside the presidential palace.

Two decades later, the push for abortion rights in that country was growing and Marta Alanis, founder of the abortion rights group Catholics for the Right to Decide, had an idea.

In an interview with Le Monde, she said she wanted to bring bandanas to an abortion rights protest in 2003 to pay homage to the families of the people disappeared by the junta — but didn’t want to use the white colour that had defined those earlier efforts.

She and other organizers decided to use green instead — “a symbol of hope, health, life,” Alanis said in the interview with Le Monde in May 2022.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

An abortion-rights activist reacts after lawmakers approved a bill that legalizes abortion, outside Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko). (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
Abortion rights activists rally outside Congress as lawmakers debate a bill that would legalize abortion, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano). AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
Pro-choice activists in favour of decriminalizing abortion raise green handkerchiefs as they rally outside Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.  (AP Photo/Tomas F. Cuesta). AP Photo/Tomas F. Cuesta

The green bandanas quickly took off, becoming a familiar and frequent sight at abortion rights protests in Argentina in 2015 and 2018, as well as across Latin America, where the political movement for gender equality and abortion access has been making inroads over the past decade.

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It’s all part of a movement known as the “Marea Verde” — the Green Wave.

The years-long efforts of organizers in Argentina culminated in a major victory in December 2020, when the country legalized abortion up until the 14th week of a pregnancy following years of protests.

Argentinians flooded into the streets, wearing green and celebrating the decision.

The green scarves and bandanas have over recent years become “a resistance symbol,” according to Human Rights Watch, as abortion rights advocates continue pushing for increased access to the health-care service across Latin America.

Several Mexican states have decriminalized abortion since 2007 and in September 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for states to punish women for getting abortions.

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That ruling is expected to lead to a domino effect across the country as lower courts will be forced over coming years to issue rulings in keeping with that one.

The Green Wave also secured a major win earlier this year when Colombia in February decriminalized abortions until the 24th week, and Chile is set to vote in September 2022 on a constitutional redraft that would, if passed, enshrine the right to abortion, Reuters reported earlier this year.

Abortion-rights demonstrators march during a Global Day of Action for access to legal, safe and free abortion, in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix). AP Photo/Esteban Felix
FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2021 file photo, abortion rights demonstrators paint a mural that reads in Spanish, “Legal, free and safe abortion,” during a Global Day of Action for access to legal, safe and free abortion, in Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File). AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File
Pro-choice feminist movements demonstrate on the outskirts of the Constitutional Court, at the Justice Palace in support of the decriminalization of abortions in Colombia, in Bogota, Colombia on Feb. 9, 2022. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. The Associated Press

In countries like Poland, which implemented a near-total abortion ban last year, green is now a frequent sight at demonstrations and strikes opposing that decision.

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That country, along with Malta, now has the most restrictive abortion bans in the European Union, according to Amnesty International, which has warned that the chill effect of the ban in Poland is causing doctors to refuse to provide abortions even in the rare cases where it remains permitted under the law.

People march near the front of the Constitutional Tribunal headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021, to protest after the country’s top court on Wednesday confirmed its highly divisive ruling that will further tighten the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict anti-abortion law. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski). (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
People attend a rally organized by Poland’s Women Strike in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski). AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Tensions in the U.S. are becoming more fraught in the lead-up to the midterm elections, where abortion rights are expected to play to a central role, and more protests are virtually guaranteed as states emboldened by the fall of Roe v. Wade continue to crack down on abortion access.

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While the outcome is uncertain, at least one thing appears clear: green is now firmly entrenched as the colour of abortion rights and with more protests on the horizon, expect to see a lot more of it.

An abortion rights advocate wears a green kerchief outside the U.S. embassy to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which removed women’s constitutional protections for abortion in the U.S., in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano). (AP Photo/Fernando Llano

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