Elective abortion is still illegal in Argentina after Argentina's Senate rejected a bill to legalize it. No matter the fact that most Argentinians are in favor of legalizing abortion, the Senate has made its decision and abortion remains illegal in Argentina. The debate was long and voting was close, but eventually 31 votes were for and 38 votes were against the measure that would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion in Argentina is only allowed in cases of rape and risk to a woman’s health. The abortion ban leads to unsafe abortions and thousands of woman are hospitalized each year for complications.
“Let’s recognize that we’re facing a public health tragedy,” said Magdalena Odarda, a senator for Rio Negro province, as Religionnews.com reports. “We’re not deciding abortion yes or no. We’re deciding abortion in a hospital, or illegal abortion, with a clothes hanger, or anything else that puts a woman in a humiliating, degrading situation — a real torture,” she said.
Movements in Argentina, which promoted legalization of abortion, came closer than ever to achieving their goal in this South American country and the homeland of Pope Francis. After a wave of demonstrations by women's groups, the lower house had passed the measure and Argentina's conservative president Mauricio Macri said that he would sign the bill if Senate approves it, even though he is anti-abortion.
Thousands of supporters wearing green handkerchiefs (and opponents wearing light blue) watched the debate on large screens set up outside the Congress. Supporters of the bill said that legalizing abortion would save the lives of women who are at risk of death because many clandestine abortions happen in Argentina every year. The Catholic church and other opponents stated the bill violates Argentinian law, which guarantees life from the moment of conception.
"This law doesn't obligate, nor does it recommend anyone have an abortion. The only thing this law does is defend the right to choose." said Norma Durango, from the opposition Peronist party. "Abortion always kills a child and it doesn't solve the woman's problem. We believe that this is never the solution. Faced with an unexpected pregnancy abortion is never the solution. There are always other solutions." Maria Castillo, who campaigned outside parliament, said according to BBC.
The entirety of Latin America is still very conservative, and anti-abortion movements are still strong even though the Roman Catholic Church has lost its prevailing influence and moral authority due to secularization and a huge number of sex abuse scandals. The decision made by Argentina's Senate could have significant impact on other Latin American countries where efforts to ease or tighten abortion restrictions have repeatedly emerged in recent years.
Photo Credits: Historica Canada