Argentina legalizes abortions after heated debate: “It’s law”

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After heated discussions, abortions are now allowed in Argentina. That decided the Senate of the Latin American country. The controversial vote lasted 13 hours.

In Argentina, abortions are now allowed up to the 14th week of pregnancy. The Senate of the South American country adopted a proposal for a liberal abortion law by 38 votes to 29 with one abstention, which goes back to President Alberto Fernández and had previously been accepted by the Chamber of Deputies.

During the roughly 13-hour vote, thousands of demonstrators with green cloths demonstrated in front of the Senate, with light blue cloths against it. After the decision was made public, supporters embraced each other and celebrated. Opponents reacted in disbelief and disappointment.

“It’s the law” is becoming a trend

Argentine media attributed the success of the initiative to the fact that previously undecided people had cast their vote in favor of liberalization. “Es ley” (It’s law) became a trend on social media in Argentina.

In 2018, a law for a liberal abortion law in parliament had narrowly failed. With the new result, the legalization of abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy is approved. Previously, the termination of pregnancies in the South American country was only allowed in special cases, for example after rape or if the mother’s life was at risk.

It is estimated that there were between 370,000 and 520,000 clandestine abortions per year in private clinics or back rooms. There were always complications and deaths. “If abortion is hidden, women will continue to die,” said Norma Durango, president of the Senate Special Commission on Women, in the debate. “The alternative is legal abortion or secret abortion.” Opponents like the President of the Health Commission, on the other hand, invoked the right to life for mother and child.

Under the previous legislation of 1921, not only doctors, but women as well, made themselves punishable by abortion. Advocates and opponents of legalization in the Senate moved across the political camps, also because the subject, which is being hotly debated in Argentina, is a very personal one.

President celebrates decision – Pope was against

Left-wing President Fernández, who implemented an election promise with the legislative initiative, wrote on Twitter: “Today we are a better society that extends women’s rights and guarantees public health.” Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, spoke out against legalization before the vote. In the home of the Pope, the Catholic Church still plays an important role as a political factor.

It remains to be seen whether the change in the law in Argentina, one of the heavyweights in the region, will have a signal effect for Latin America. In most other Latin American countries, which are also Christian, abortions are only allowed in exceptional cases. They are only legal in countries such as Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, French Guiana and in parts of Mexico. In El Salvador, abortions are strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment. Even miscarriages come with severe penalties.

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