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

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

The Senate rejected the proposed bill 38 to 31, with two abstentions.

Despite the major influence of Catholicism on the nation, the people are passionately divided about abortion. We will continue to stand with women in Argentina. Abortion will be legal soon.

"Regardless of the result, today, democracy wins", Macri said ahead of the vote. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait a year to resubmit legislation. Although that would not legalize the practice, it is seen as a compromise solution. "It legalizes it. It legalizes the failure", the Post said. Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries with laws that broadly allow abortion, while Brazil's Supreme Court is in the process of deciding whether to decriminalize abortion in that country. More recently, the Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, movement that was created in Argentina to fight violence against women has grown into a global phenomenon.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said Argentina has a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women. "It's the beginning of revolutions".

Global human rights and women's groups have been closely following the vote, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause.

The recent effort to change Argentina's abortion laws grew out of a new wave of feminist activism in the country, which started around 2015.

In neighboring Chile, the Constitutional Court a year ago upheld a measure that would end that country's absolute ban on abortions, permitting abortions when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

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Demonstrations in support of the Argentine abortion bill were also held in countries such as Bolivia and Mexico.

"This is obviously a setback", said Ima Guirola of the Women Studies Institute, a group in El Salvador.

Natalia Carol, a 23-year-old supporter of legalized abortion, said she is "still optimistic". According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, at least 350,000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year. Activists estimated 3,030 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983 and framed the issue as a health matter.

Groups supporting legalized abortion also threatened to burn churches prior to the vote.

But the city's archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: "It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason". "Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the State".

Last June, Pope Francis-who is Argentinian-compared the practice of abortion to Nazi eugenics and ethnic cleansing. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead.

Argentina's Senate rejected a bill that would have legalised elective abortion for pregnancies of up to 14 weeks. Macri said he was personally against abortion, but would sign the bill if it passed.

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