Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Argentina Senate Votes Against Legalizing Abortion

Argentina's abortion campaigners braced for crucial vote The bill is expected to fall short of the necessary votes to pass into law
Ellis Copeland | 11 August, 2018, 10:08

The vote came as a major setback to the hundreds of thousands of pro-choice advocates who ran an aggressive campaign against strong opposition from the highly influential Catholic Church in the homeland of Pope Francis.

Senators debated for more than 15 hours before voting 38-31 in the early hours of Thursday against the measure, which would have allowed abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (child murder) will be your ruin".

The legalization bill can not be debated again until 2019, although some advocates of removing abortion restrictions have suggested promoting a bill for decriminalization as an alternative, according to Crux.

The vote was welcomed by fireworks and shouts of joy among anti-abortion activists gathered outside of Congress.

The issue has bitterly divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Roman Catholic Church against feminist groups and other physicians.

Ahead of the Senate vote in Argentina, President Mauricio Macri called the debate "a win for democracy".

Meanwhile, at the city's Metropolitan Cathedral, a "mass for life" was held in support of keeping laws unchanged.

But the Supreme Federal Tribunal recently held an extraordinary session to hear arguments on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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Various charities estimate that 500,000 illegal, secret abortions are carried out every year in Argentina, resulting in around 100 deaths.

Small groups rallied in other countries across the region to voice support for the Argentine abortion measure, including in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

In Chile, the constitutional Court past year upheld legislation ending the Andean nation's absolute ban on abortions, permitting the procedure when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

Worldwide human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

Another senator who was voting in favour of abortion was 2007-2015 President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said she had initially opposed abortion, but the "thousands of girls who came out to the streets" in support of it had made her change her mind.

"We're not deciding abortion yes or no".

"We need to make an effort to resolve this", she said.

"Just because the bill got shot down, it will not stop the movement", she said. Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned.

One of them, Federico Berruete, a 35-year-old priest, joined anti-abortion demonstrators holding up slogans reading "Life starts at conception".

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