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

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

Argentina's senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Had the bill passed the Senate and been signed by Macri, Argentina would have become the most populous of a handful of Latin American nations-including Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and parts of Mexico-where abortion is legal.

There were 31 votes in favour - falling short of the 35-vote majority needed for bills to pass - and two abstentions.

Following Thursday's vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing hard, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.

What's Argentina's current stand on abortion?

The Catholic Church and other groups opposed it, saying it violated Argentine law, which guarantees life from the moment of conception. According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, at least 350,000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year.

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

Abortion has always been illegal in Argentina: Currently, if a woman is found to have undergone the procedure (in instances other than rape or if the mother's life is in danger), she can be jailed for up to four years.

Senators from Argentina's northern regions led the charge against legalizing voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it.

"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 June, however, he likened abortions meant to prevent birth defects to the Nazi eugenics program. "We have to go to the causes of abortion and not abortion as a solution".

For months, hundreds of doctors in Argentina had staged anti-abortion protests while feminists and other groups led even larger demonstrations in support of the measure, often wearing green that symbolizes the pro-abortion movement, or red cloaks and white bonnets like the characters from the novel-turned-TV series "The Handmaid's Tale".

"The human-rights group says that over the past 30 years, complications from risky abortions have accounted for a third of the maternal deaths in Argentina".

Many had camped in front of Argentina's National Congress since Wednesday night.

His sentiments were shared by 21-year-old Camila Sforza, who said she remained hopeful despite the setback. "It doesn't reduce abortions - it just makes them unsafe", said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty in an interview with the progressive UK Guardian last April.

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