In Argentina, the right to abortion returns to Parliament

In Argentina, the right to abortion returns to Parliament

A bill legalizing abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy in Argentina will be debated after November 30 in Parliament. The text provides for a “conscientious objection” for health professionals refusing to perform abortion, but obliges them to “refer the patient to appropriate care”.

Two years after rejecting the legalization of abortion, the Parliament of Argentina will once again debate the right to abortion (voluntary termination of pregnancy).

In this country of 45 million predominantly Catholic inhabitants and the homeland of Pope Francis, the Chamber of Deputies had approved the legalization of abortion until the 14th week in a historic vote in 2018, but the Senate did so. had finally rejected by a narrow majority a few weeks later.

Abortion is legal in Argentina only in cases of rape or danger to the mother’s life, according to a law in force since the 1920s.

A pioneer for the promulgation of laws on same-sex marriage and gender identity in Latin America, Argentina could, if the text is adopted, join Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and the province of Mexico, the only ones to allow abortion without conditions in the region.

“Until the 14th week of pregnancy”

In a video posted on his Twitter account, center-left President Alberto Fernandez said the aim of the bill is to ensure “full access to health care for all women.”

The text authorizes abortion “until the 14th week of pregnancy”. It provides for a “conscientious objection” for healthcare professionals refusing to practice it, but obliges them to “refer the patient to appropriate care”.

“The criminalization of abortion has served no purpose. Disturbing figures show that each year some 38,000 women are hospitalized for complications from clandestine abortions, and since the return of democracy (in 1983), more than 3 000 died of it “, recalled Alberto Fernandez. According to the government, between 370,000 and 520,000 clandestine abortions are performed each year in the country.

Campaign promise

Alberto Fernandez also submitted to the deputies a “Thousand Days Plan” which intends to “strengthen access to care during pregnancy and during the first years of a child’s life” for families in a situation of financial vulnerability.

“We do not want a woman to think about having an abortion because of her inability to pay for the baby she wants to have,” Vilma Ibarra, Secretary of State in charge of relations with Parliament, said recently, who called for to parliamentarians “a serious and responsible debate on this subject of public health“.

The two separate texts should be debated after November 30 in extraordinary sessions.

The Argentine president, elected in October 2019, recalled that by submitting this bill he was fulfilling “a promise” of an electoral campaign. After his election, he pledged to present a bill on abortion at the start of the parliamentary session on March 1, but the pandemic of the new coronavirus had upset the legislative timetable.

The religious oppose it

Alberto Fernandez’s announcement sparked scenes of joy among the 1,000 supporters of the government who gathered on the outskirts of Parliament to put pressure on the debates on the financing of the health system.

Under the slogan “It is urgent. Legal abortion 2020”, the National Campaign for the right to a legal, safe and free abortion called on Tuesday to “saturate social networks” and “intervene in the streets” to influence the debate .

“The general situation of the public health system” while the Covid-19 has killed 35,000 in this country of 44 million inhabitants, “makes any attempt to present and discuss such a law unsustainable and inappropriate”, recently reported the Conference of Catholic Bishops. Evangelical churches have also expressed their opposition to such a project.

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