Published: Thu, August 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Will Argentina legalize abortion?

The vote in Argentina came almost two months after Argentina's Chamber of Deputies narrowly approved the measure and President Mauricio Macri said that despite his personal opposition to abortion, he was prepared to sign it.

Pro-choice activists gather around a bonfire to keep warm as celebratory fireworks go off in the distance from a gathering of pro-life activists, as they all wait outside Congress for lawmakers to vote on an abortion bill in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.

The Senate rejected the proposed bill 38 to 31, with two abstentions. But despite that, an estimated half a million women have illegal terminations every year.

Currently, abortion is allowed in Argentina in only three cases, similar to most of Latin America: rape, a threat to the mother's life or if the foetus is disabled.

But the city's archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: "It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason". "Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the State".

Argentina's Senate rejected a bill that would have legalised elective abortion for pregnancies of up to 14 weeks.

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Some resort to using a clothes hanger wire or knitting needle to break the amniotic sac inside the womb, others take toxic mixtures or herbs that can prove fatal.

Hundreds of physicians have staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace. Amnesty International told legislators that "the world is watching".

"Just because the bill got shot down, it will not stop the movement", said Paula Avila-Guillen, a director of Women's Equality Center, an abortion rights advocacy group. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or the fetus is brain-dead.

Chile's Constitutional Court a year ago 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 or in cases of rape.

Demonstrations in support of the Argentine abortion bill were also held in countries such as Bolivia and Mexico.

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

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