The Argentine National Senate legalized abortion on request after a long battle within the legislature and advocates of both sides of the issue. The law, titled Ley de Interrupción Voluntaria del Embarazo or Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law, legalizes abortion up to 14 weeks of gestation.
The December 30th decision makes Argentina the largest Latin American country to legalize elective abortion.
The approval comes days after the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Argentine National Congress) passed the bill. Consequently, the National Senate held a 12-hour session going into the late hours of the night as thousands of Argentines waited outside the Congressional Palace in Buenos Aires. CBS News confirmed that 38 senators voted in favor, 29 opposed it, and one abstained.
Prior to the Senate vote, abortion in Argentina was only authorized under cases of when the mother’s life was at risk or rape.
For years, Argentina has been a battleground for the abortion debate. Since 2015, the Ni Una Menos movement (Spanish for “not one less”) began as a campaign against femicide and violence against women. In recent years, the campaign has incorporated advocacy for legal access to abortion to their mission.
The Ni Una Menos campaigners don a green handkerchief which has become a symbol of abortion rights.
Pro-choice Argentines argue that the legalization of abortion would help to prevent clandestine abortions. According to the country’s National Health Ministry, between ‘371,965 to 522,000’ illegal abortion procedures occur in Argentina every year.
By contrast, the Roman Catholic church played a massive role in the fight against legalization. According to America, a Jesuit weekly magazine, members of the Catholic clergy in Argentina lobbied hard against the passing of the bill. Many bishops have expressed their disapproval including Father José Di Paola, who told a Buenos Aires radio station that the proposal has nothing to do with helping Argentines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several groups also were involved in the pro-life movement in Argentina. A well-known group named Salvemos Las 2 Vidas, Spanish for “let’s save both lives”, has fought against abortion legislation through a similar grassroots movement as those in favor of the proposal. Their mission is to help and provide resources to expectant mothers. Wearing blue handkerchiefs with the slogan, has become an emblem of their pro-life support.
Luciana Prat, a woman waiting for the results outside the palace, expressed her concern over the Senate’s decision. “These politicians aren’t representing the majority,” she said.
According to Giacobbe & Asociados, a Buenos Aires-based independent pollster, 60% of Argentines disagreed with the bill.
Pope Francis posted a tweet alluding to the matter a day before the legislation was passed. He did not comment on the senate’s decision after the bill’s passed.
Argentina joins Guyana and Uruguay in the list of South American countries to legalize abortion on request.
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About the Author:
Melissa Duran is a university student in South Florida. She immigrated from El Salvador at age 5 and became a naturalized citizen at age 11. While a Hillary Clinton fan during the beginning of her political journey, Melissa found herself walking away from the Democrat Party upon doing her own individual research and came to realization of her support for conservative ideals. She became a staunch advocate for President Donald J. Trump and the pro-free speech, pro-life movement. During the 2020 presidential election season, Melissa worked for Turning Point Action, a 501(c)(4) organization. Aside from her native Spanish, she is fluent in English, and has a limited working proficiency in Portuguese and French.