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Argentina abortion vote: Senate approves historic bill allowing legal terminations


The #Senate voted 38-29 to give millions of women access to legal terminations under a new law supported by #President #Alberto #Fernández. The margin was expected to be much smaller.

#Massive crowds of pro- and anti-abortion activists gathered outside the #Palace of the #Argentine #National #Congress to await the results, which came in the early hours of the morning after an overnight debate. #Supporters of the bill greeted the news with loud cheers — and, in some cases, tears of joy.

#Gabriela #Giacomelli, whose two sisters aborted illegally, called the scene “very emotional.”

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“#We have been fighting for years,” #Giacomelli said. “I see young people now, though I hope they never have to abort, but if they do now they can do it safely.”

#Another pro-abortion demonstrator, #Sofia #Gonzalez, said she believed #Wednesday was a “historic moment” in #Argentina’s history. “#Starting today, I believe everything changes,” she added.

The proposed law will legalize abortion in all cases up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. #Abortion in #Argentina, #South #America’s third-most populous country, is currently only permitted when a pregnancy results from rape or endangers the life or health of the woman.

#In all other circumstances, abortion is illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

#Abortion advocates hope #Argentina’s decision will spur similar movements in #Latin #America’s other #Catholic-majority states.

#Tamara #Taraciuk #Broner, the acting deputy director of #Human #Rights #Watch (HRW) #Americas #Division, said before the vote that if the law passed, it would “send a very strong message to the region that it is possible to move forward with legalization of abortion — even in a #Catholic country like #Argentina.”

#Across #Latin #America and the #Caribbean region, only #Cuba, #Uruguay, #French #Guiana and #Guyana allow for elective abortions, according to the #Center for #Reproductive #Rights. #In #Mexico #City and the #Mexican state of #Oaxaca, abortions are also available on request, but are severely restricted throughout the rest of #Mexico.

#By contrast, #El #Salvador, the #Dominican #Republic, #Haiti, #Honduras, #Nicaragua and #Suriname ban abortions in nearly all circumstances. #Colombia, #Costa #Rica, #Guatemala and #Panama allow for abortion only if it’s to preserve the woman’s health or help save her life.

Lawmakers debate the bill in this photograph from Tuesday.
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#Divisive campaign

#Abortion has long been a divisive issue in #Argentina, and the vote galvanized activists on both sides of the debate.

#Abortion rights advocates wore green handkerchiefs in a movement that became known as the green wave. #Anti-abortion activists dressed in blue — the color of the “save both lives” movement, and that of the national flag.

Abortion-rights activists, left, and activists against abortion, right, rally outside Argentina's Congress in the capitol of Buenos Aires as lawmakers debated a bill that would legalize abortion on Tuesday.
#This isn’t the first time the issue has gone to the #Senate. #In 2018, during the conservative administration of former #President #Mauricio #Macri, an attempt to legalize abortion in #Argentina passed the lower house, but was narrowly defeated in the #Senate.

#In recent months, the abortion rights movement received a huge boost from the support of #President #Fernández, who came to power last #December.

#In a recorded address shortly before his inauguration, #Fernández pledged to “put an end to the criminalization of abortion.”

#Wearing a green tie — a symbol of the abortion rights movement — #Fernández said criminalizing the procedure unfairly punishes “vulnerable and poor women,” adding they were the “the greatest victims” of #Argentina’s legal system.

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“The criminalization of abortion has been of no use,” he said, noting that it “has only allowed abortions to occur clandestinely in troubling numbers.”

#Fernández said more than 3,000 people had died from illegal abortions since 1983. #No official figures are available for how many illegal abortions take place in #Argentina, but the #National #Health #Ministry estimates that between 371,965 and 522,000 procedures are performed annually.

#According to a report from HRW, nearly 40,000 women and children in #Argentina were hospitalized in 2016 as a result of unsafe, clandestine abortions or miscarriages.
Catholic priests hold a mass during an anti-abortion protest as lawmakers debated its legalization, outside Congress in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

#Citing #National #Health #Ministry data, the HRW report found that 39,025 women and girls were admitted to public hospitals for health issues arising from abortions or miscarriages, and more than 6,000 were aged between 10 and 19.

#Experts say the new law will allow 13- to 16-year-olds with normal pregnancies to access abortion services without a guardian. #Doctors will have the option to “conscientiously object” to performing abortions, although the law states they will have to find another doctor to do so.

The bill also uses inclusive language acknowledging that not all people who become pregnant identify as women.

#Camila #Fernandez, a self-identifying transgender woman, who was instrumental in the push for the bill’s language that reads “people with ability to be pregnant,” told CNN that youth and the LGBTQ community were instrumental in challenging an “adult centrist and patriarchal power that has perpetuated privileges and injustices.”

‘#Troubling numbers’

The abortion debate has created tension in a country with deep #Catholic ties.

#Argentina, the birthplace of #Pope #Francis, has seen a gradual rise in agnosticism in recent years, although 92% of #Argentinians still identify as #Roman #Catholic, according to the CIA.

#Argentina’s constitution cements government support for the #Catholic #Church and recognizes #Roman #Catholicism as the official religion. #However, a 1994 amendment removed the requirement that the president must be #Catholic.

#In #November, #Francis weighed into the debate, encouraging the anti-abortion group #Mujeres de las #Villas to “move forward” with their work.

#In a handwritten letter addressed to congresswoman and group intermediary #Victoria #Morales #Gorleri, #Francis said “the problem of abortion is not primarily a question of religion, but of human ethics, first and foremost of any religious denomination.”

“#Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? #Is it fair to hire a hit man to solve a problem?” he wrote.

#On #Saturday, the #Church of #Argentina called on the #Senate to vote against the bill, with #Bishop #Oscar #Ojea, president of the local bishops’ conference and an outspoken opponent of abortion, saying opposition was supported by “medical science and law,” #Reuters reported.



[ source link ]
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/30/americas/argentina-abortion-senate-vote-intl/index.html

##Argentina #abortion #vote ##Senate #approves #historic #bill #allowing #legal #terminations

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