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Argentina lower house approves landmark bill to legalize abortion

Date Added: December 11, 2020 07:48:06 PM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: Regional: Argentina
Argentina’s lower house of Congress approved a government-backed bill to legalize abortion in the early hours of Friday morning, a big step forward for the legislation that could set the tone for a wider shift in conservative Latin America.

The draft law, which would provide for the legal termination of pregnancy up until the 14th week, was passed with 131 votes in favor, 117 against and 6 abstentions. It will now move up to the Senate, where an even tighter vote is anticipated.

The South American country is the birthplace of Pope Francis, and the abortion bill comes as a number of countries in the predominantly Roman Catholic region are seeing drives to give women greater reproductive rights.

Following a mammoth debate that began on Thursday, the landmark bill faced a vote on Friday morning, after protesters in favor and against the legislation had massed in the streets outside Congress.

“We are convinced that this offers a concrete answer to an urgent and structural public health problem,” said Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, the government’s Women, Gender and Diversity minister, as she opened the session in the Chamber of Deputies.

“The time has come to stop looking the other way.”

Protesters supporting the bill had gathered outside Congress wearing green scarves for an overnight vigil to await the news. A similar vote to legalize abortion was narrowly defeated in 2018.

Opposition groups, wearing light blue scarves, also took to the streets to demonstrate against the bill.

The initiative includes a parallel bill which will face a separate vote to assist women who want to continue with their pregnancy and face severe economic or social difficulties.

Argentine law currently only allows the voluntary interruption of pregnancy when there is a serious risk to the mother or in the event of rape, although activists say many women often do not receive adequate care.

The country has seen a gradual rise in agnosticism in recent years. While the current Peronist government is strongly behind the bill, that was not the case in 2018 during the conservative administration of Mauricio Macri.

“We are not in favor of abortion, we do not recommend or suggest it, we are against clandestine abortion that kills thousands of women,” Argentine actress and campaigner Carola Reyna posted on Twitter.

“We believe that it is a practice that should be regulated by the State, guaranteeing women’s health.”

~ Via Reuters