Send by email

your name: email to: message:
Username: Email: Password: Confirm Password:
Login with
Confirming registration ...

Edit your profile:

Country: Town: State:
Gender: Birthday:
Email: Web:
How do you describe yourself:
Password: New password: Repite password:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Argentine Congress approves decriminalizing abortion

Por Jade

An immense and symbolic green handkerchief flutters in the sky of Argentina. Before thousands of supporters and detractors of the decriminalization of abortion, which remained in a continuous vigil during the freezing night of Buenos Aires, the Argentine Congress has taken a historic first step to grant legal coverage to the termination of pregnancy before 14 weeks of gestation. After 23 hours of uninterrupted debate, in which some 200 deputies participated, the lower house has approved the bill for a very tight result (129 in favor and 125 against) and now the Senate must endorse the text so that it becomes law. A crowd has celebrated the decision outside the parliamentary precinct.

Avenida de Mayo, always emblematic, has been in the last 24 hours the symbolic expression of the division that has generated in Argentines the discussion on the decriminalization of abortion. Within the centenary building of the Congress, the interventions of the legislators for and against legalization showed differences within the parliamentary groups themselves, with the ruling coalition conservative mostly against and the Peronist opposition fragmented but more favorable to decriminalization.

Outside, the Congress Square had been segmented by the police. On one side and in greater numbers, the gigantic green tide composed mainly of thousands of women of all ages with green handkerchiefs. On the other side of the square were the pro-life protesters, with their classic celestial colors. There was no crossing between both groups. The green tide sang and chanted in favor of the woman's right to decide. The celestial prayed and insisted on the right to life of the unborn. The initiative will now go to the upper house, where several analysts predict that it will be rejected by many senators representing provinces with strong influence from the Catholic Church. However, the leaders of the two majority blocs in the Senate have agreed in statements to the Argentine newspaper Clarín that the law will have the green light.

The approved text decriminalizes any abortion until the 14th week of gestation - and not only in the current cases of rape and danger to the mother's health - and establishes that if the pregnant woman is under 16 years of age, it must be done with her consent. The project also guarantees that once the 14 weeks of freedom to abort has elapsed, the pregnancy can be legally interrupted if it is the result of a violation, if the woman's health is at risk and if the "unviability" of extrauterine life of the fetus is diagnosed.

"We are dealing with a public health issue that can not be addressed with blinders or moral or ethical or ideological, much less religious," said opposition deputy Mayra Mendoza, one of the driving forces of the project, in her speech. "This is also a matter of social justice," she said. The text, which requires the State to ensure sex education policies, ensures the conscientious objection of the health professional who must intervene in the abortion but only if he or she has previously expressed it "individually and in writing", and not allows if the woman requires "immediate medical attention".

So far, abortion is decriminalized in Argentina in cases of rape or risk to the health of women. Although there are no official figures, some estimates indicate that some 450,000 women abort annually in Argentina. For many of the deputies in favor of decriminalizing abortion, it is a question of "public health". According to the Ministry of Health, some 45,000 women receive health care each year due to problems in the termination of pregnancy and an average of fifty women die from this cause annually. The change of last minute opinion of some legislators was decisive for the approval of the bill in the Congress of Deputies. It was the case of three Peronist deputies from the province of La Pampa, who had previously demonstrated against or without a clear position and finally voted in favor.

The forecasts of the vote indicated almost until the last moment that the project would be rejected but in the last section of those 23 hours of debate the overturning occurred in favor of legalization. The deputies of the different groups have had freedom of vote on this occasion. Several deputies of Cambiemos were in favor of legalization, despite the fact that the majority of the conservative caucus voted against it. In the ranks of the Peronist opposition there was also division, although less. The vote in the Senate is expected to be in September or October. If abortion is approved in all cases, Argentina joins Cuba, Uruguay and Mexico City, the only territories in the region where abortion is legal. But even if it is finally rejected, this was a historic development for a bill that was already raised six times in Congress and never reached this stage.