Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Argentina Abortion Bill: Country Braces for Historic Vote to Legalize Abortion

Argentina Abortion Bill: Country Braces for Historic Vote to Legalize Abortion

On Thursday, anti-abortion activists and abortion-rights advocates - many wearing green bandanas that have come to symbolize the country's growing women's rights movement - stood outside the National Congress as the Senate debate dragged on for more than 16 hours before finally going to a vote.

Thousands of pro and anti-abortion protesters in rival colours gathered in heavy rain outside Congress in Buenos Aires as politicians debated the proposal for 15 hours.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (killing one's children) will be your ruin".

Deputies vote on the abortion bill on Thursday in Buenos Aires.

It's believed pressure from the Catholic church and Pope Francis are behind the decision not to stray from the strict abortion ban. Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, has yet to publicly comment on the law that was rejected yesterday.

Argentina's Senate rejected a bill that would have legalised elective abortion for pregnancies of up to 14 weeks. According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, at least 350,000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year. In 2010, it became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.

Currently, abortion is allowed in Argentina in only three cases, similar to most of Latin America: rape, a threat to the mother's life or if the foetus is disabled.

Worldwide human rights and women's groups closely followed the campaign, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the cause.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, a conservative, said he would sign the measure into law if it passed in the Senate, even though he personally opposes abortion. But in June, he said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi eugenics programmes.

Rosangela Talib, a coordinator for Catholics for Choice, a leading advocate in Brazil for reproductive rights, said the defeat in Argentina will not deter the fight to decriminalize abortion.

"We're not deciding abortion yes or now".

"There are positive points that have come out of this, first of all, that even when there are differing ways of thinking, there's a square in peace right now, with thousands of people defending their convictions", said Buenos Aires provincial Gov. Maria Eugenia Vidal, who was against the measure.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, the anger and upset was palpable as pro-legalisation demonstrators wept as they heard the news that senate had voted against the bill.

The alleged "human rights" organization Amnesty International has been hammering Argentina to repeal its constitutional provision protecting preborn babies from abortion. Chile had been the last country in South America to ban abortion in all cases, though several nations in Central America still have absolute prohibitions.

His sentiments were shared by 21-year-old Camila Sforza, who said she remained hopeful despite the setback.

Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay permit early-term elective abortions, as does Mexico City.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.