Argentina Makes History As It Legalizes Abortion In The Majority-Catholic Country
Argentina has truly made history as it moved to legalize abortion with an early morning vote by the senate. The country’s senate has approved a bill to allow abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, a ground-breaking move for a region that has some of the world’s most restrictive termination laws.
Argentina’s Congress votes to approve bill allowing abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
Argentina has become the largest Latin American country to allow abortion after its senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favor to 29 against, with one abstention.
Elated pro-choice campaigners who had been keeping vigil outside Buenos Aires’s neoclassical congressional palace erupted in celebration as the result was announced at just after 4am on Wednesday.
Women screamed with delight, sweeping their friends into tight hugs and jumping in ecstasy. Many wept tears of joy. Victory music kicked in and green smoke filled the air. A triumphant message flashed up on a big screen above the joyful crowd: “We did it!” it said. “ES LEY!” (IT’S LAW!).
Argentina has just taken one massive step closer towards women’s equality. On Friday morning, the lower house of Congress voted to pass a bill that would legalize abortion in the majority-Catholic country. The bill was passed after more than 20 hours of debate.
If passed by the senate, it would make Argentina one of only four Latin American countries that has legalized abortion.
Coincidentally, the move comes just days after a 12-year-old rape victim in Jujuy was forced to give birth to twins after being denied an abortion.
According to reports, local authorities insisted the girl remain pregnant until the twins were mature enough to be delivered via C-section.
The town’s branch of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide released a fiery statement condemning the actions of Jujuy’s local authorities. It read: “Despite the fact that the National Directorate of Sexual Health made an offer to immediately resolve the situation, preserving the physical and emotional health of the girl, the authorities in charge of the local Health portfolio, rejected the proposal and they decided not to guarantee this girl her right to ILE (legal interruption of pregnancy).”
As of now, the unidentified girl is not living back with her parents. Other than that, there is no update on the health or whereabouts of the girl or the babies.
For years, abortion access has been incredibly restricted in Argentina.
The procedure was illegal except in cases where the mother or baby’s lives were in danger. In 2019, the country passed a law that also included rape victims as exceptions. It appears that Jujuy’s local authorities skirted that law.
Otherwise, abortion is considered a criminal offence in Argentina. Women who consent to the procedure face up to four years in prison. Doctors or anyone who otherwise performs abortions could face up to fifteen years in prison.
In Jujuy, childhood motherhood appears to be a crisis. According to TodoJujuy, 685 adolescent births took place in public hospitals this year. Of that number, 20 of the girls were rape victims between the ages of 10 and 14.
The push towards various kinds of gender rights–including abortion rights–has been central to President Alberto Fernández’s administration.
The center-left politician campaigned on a platform that emphasized the rights of women, gay, and trans communities since he was elected in 2019. Even throughout the devastation of the pandemic, Fernández has insisted on keeping his promises towards marginalized communities.
Fernández helped create a quota system that guarantees trans individuals one percent of federal public-sector jobs. He has also reportedly asked his team to “avoid scheduling meetings that include only straight men”.
As of now, the movement towards women’s rights in Argentina seems to be progressing.
“This is a fundamental step and recognition of a long struggle that women’s movements have been carrying out in our country for years,” said Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Argentina’s Women, Gender and Diversity minister, to Reuters. “We are going to continue working so that the voluntary termination of pregnancy becomes law.”
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