“I made a commitment to you and today I will keep my word. “ Eight months late, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez presented to Congress on Tuesday, November 17, the government’s bill to legalize voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion). The center-left Peronist president had pledged to depose it in early March, before the Covid-19 pandemic put this subject in the background.
Green tie around the neck, the color symbol of the fight for the right to abortion, Alberto Fernandez said: “The criminalization of abortion has served no purpose, it has only allowed abortions to take place clandestinely (…). Every year, nearly 38,000 women are hospitalized for unsafe abortions. “ Along with the tabling of his bill to legalize abortion, the president also submitted to Congress a “Thousand days plan”, including financial assistance for poor families during pregnancy and for three years after childbirth.
“The state cannot look away”
The president, in power since December 2019, is the first in the history of this very Catholic country to declare himself in favor of the legalization of abortion. For the time being, abortion in Argentina is only allowed in cases of rape or if the pregnancy presents a danger to the health of the pregnant person. Dozens of women die each year from clandestine abortions, and every three hours a girl aged 10 to 14 is forced to give birth in the country.
« The state cannot look away, it must be present. No one wants abortions to take place, but they do, it is a fact, and women can either die or have their health affected ”, underlines Vilma Ibarra, secretary for legal and technical questions to the president, main author of the text. In the American subcontinent, only Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and two Mexican provinces have legalized abortion.
Alberto Fernandez’s announcement was greeted with great emotion in the ranks of feminist activists. The Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion hailed the executive’s decision, calling it “Conquest of those who fight for more rights”. It is this group of associations that was at the origin of previous bills to legalize abortion, including the one debated in Congress in 2018.
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