The Argentine Senate will vote on a broad legalisation of abortion. This would make this country, with 45 million inhabitants, the largest in Latin America allowing for intervention.
Passage of a bill allowing voluntary abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy. Allowing the procedure for a week’s pregnancy would be a victory for women’s rights groups in a country where the procedure is only allowed if the pregnancy is the result of rape or if the woman’s life is in danger. A vote in the Senate could already take place on Tuesday and will follow the approval by the House of Commons earlier this month.
The legalisation of abortion in Argentina could have consequences for the whole of Latin America. Although electoral abortions in Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana are legal, most Latin American countries regulate them in the same way as Argentina, and some even ban them altogether.
Well-organized abortion rights movements in countries like Colombia and Chile are looking to Argentina for inspiration and momentum as their societies become increasingly socially liberal.
We think this will have consequences for the region.
leading the attempt to get it approved. It is a battle being fought all over the world to promote and obtain rights. And if the vote is positive, I think women’s rights can move forward and they can prevail.
But the evangelical movement in Argentina and the Catholic Church, which is still growing, remain strongly opposed to legalization. Pope Francis is Argentinean and rejected this idea in carefully written letters to his allies in Argentina, which have been made public.
It is illegal to eliminate life to solve a problem, the Pope said in a message in November to a group of local women who had written to him against abortion. The Argentine Catholic hierarchy was also against this measure.
people protested in front of the congress in Buenos Aires on December 11th against the legalization of abortion.
Stringers / Spreaders
This vote marks the second time in two years that the Argentine Senate has considered a bill to legalize abortion. Bill 2018 failed with a vote of 38 to 31.
A conservative president at the time,
personally against abortion, although he said he would have signed the bill if legislators had approved it. The abortion rights groups said they think they have more dynamism this time because Fernandez, a member of the left-wing Peronist coalition, has made the legalization of abortion a central part of his 12-month administration.
The whole world is watching us, and with the women talking about what’s happening, we hope the voices go our way.
a lawyer and a prominent advocate of legalization.
But those who follow Congress, and help a handful of undecided senators in interviews, have said the passage is far from guaranteed.
Jose di Mauro,
The director of the news website The parliamentarian estimated last week that 33 legislators support the legislation, 34 oppose it and 4 are undecided. Mr Di Mauro noted that some legislators who publicly expressed support for the bill have since withdrawn their support for the bill and are seeking amendments.
Among those whose votes for abortion cannot be counted.
Senator Alberto Veretilneck,
of the predominantly rural province of Rio Negro. He is open to voluntary abortions, but one of his family members said he had problems with the bill he didn’t like.
Supporters of abortion rights celebrate an abortion and liberalisation law after the Second Chamber of Congress on 11 December.
Roberto Almeida Aveledo/Zuma Press
In the province of Salta, located in the far north and sparsely populated,
Senator Sergio Levy
has spoken out against abortion in the past, but the government has tried to trap it and the president has made a personal appeal to him, said a spokesman for the legislature.
This is a delicate situation for everyone, the spokesman said. He never told me what his decision would be.
In general, polls have shown that the citizens of this strongly Catholic and evangelical country are against legalization. Sixty percent of those polled in Buenos Aires last month said they didn’t want voluntary abortions to be approved, compared to 27 percent who did. An opinion poll shows an increase in the number of opponents of legalising abortion since 2018.
An opinion poll conducted in October showed that 49 percent of respondents felt that the issue of abortion should be dealt with at a different time because of the urgency of other issues. Twenty-four percent of the respondents think this should be done in the short term.
Some opponents say that Fernandez insists on a quick confirmation because he needs a victory after Argentina has one of the worst per capita mortality rates in the world since Covid-19. The country is also struggling with economic problems: Growth is expected to fall by 10.9% by 2020.
There are 43 days between the tabling of the bill and the vote in the Senate. It took almost five months to vote on the bill in 2018.
This is a subject worth discussing, he said.
Father Jose Maria Di Paola,
the leader of the anti-abortion movement, which is close to Pope Francis. What the Honourable Senators need to focus on is resolving the health care crisis. We have poverty, hospitals that barely function. I’m in a county where there are barely enough beds for covidable patients. And here we’re talking about abortion.
For others, legalisation cannot come quickly enough. In 2014, a woman named Belen went to a remote hospital with vaginal bleeding. A doctor diagnosed her with a miscarriage, but the prosecutors accused her of an illegal abortion, which she denied. She served her sentence until 2016, when she was released because of protests defending her case.
The law needs to be changed because many women are dying as a result of illegal abortions, not to mention those in prison, said Belen, who gave audio responses to questions in the Wall Street Journal. The truth is, every day I dream of becoming a law.
Supporters of legalisation have created a powerful women’s movement, which demonstrates in front of Congress and other places of interest, wears green bandanas, beats drums and sings songs. Their message is that abortion restrictions in Argentina are endangering women’s lives, although the official data are sketchy.
In 2018, the Ministry of Health reported 35 deaths due to complications related to abortion, both legal and illegal. According to Human Rights Watch, almost 40,000 women and girls were admitted to public hospitals in 2016 for complications due to abortions or miscarriages.
Provida is one of the most active groups in the fight against legalisation. Opposition to elective abortion is particularly pronounced in the country’s vast rural areas, where most senators who oppose legalisation come from, he said.
In Buenos Aires there are more of them on the other side, he said, referring to advocates of abortion rights. If you go inland, you will see that in such a vast country most people are for life.
-Silvina Friedlevska in Buenos Aires contributed to this article.
Email Juan Forero at [email protected].
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