Argentina takes an important step towards legalising abortion

argentina abortion bill

Argentina’s lower house has voted to pass an abortion legalisation bill, as campaigning for reproductive rights in Latin America increases.

The bill would allow Argentinian people to access abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy. Currently, Argentina only permits abortions in the case of rape or if there is a health risk threatening the mother’s life.

President Alberto Fernández proposed the bill. Despite this success, it must still pass Argentina’s upper house to become law.

Campaigner and journalist Ingrid Beck said:

This is a victory for the women’s movement that’s been campaigning for this for many, many years. The fact that this bill is sponsored by the government makes all the difference.

Abortion in Argentina

On 11 December, the abortion bill passed the lower house by 131 votes to 117, after a 20-hour debate. The Argentine Senate will vote on the bill at the end of the month.

The conservative-leaning Senate rejected a similar bill in 2018.

Read on...

The campaign for abortion legalisation in Argentina has been long and difficult, and women have been imprisoned for homicide after having miscarriages.

For Argentina’s green-wearing pro-choice activists, the bill’s progress led to celebrations in the streets:

Reproductive rights in Latin America

As most of Latin America is Roman Catholic, it has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. If Argentina does legalise abortion, it will only be the fourth country in the region to do so, after Cuba, Uruguay, and Guyana.

Some countries do not permit abortions under any circumstances, including Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

As a result, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in 2017 that only a quarter of abortions performed in Latin America are safe.

Abortion under coronavirus

In April, the UN estimated that worldwide lockdowns could leave 47 million women without access to contraceptives. As a result, it projected seven million additional unintentional pregnancies.

According to Amnesty International, coronavirus (Covid-19) has increased calls for changes to reproductive rights in Latin America.

Johana Cepeda, nurse and Colombian human rights activist, said:

The barriers to access range from lack of information to incorrect interpretations of the health clause of the ruling. Many consider the concept of ‘health’ as limited to having an illness but lack a wider understanding of it as including physical, mental and social wellbeing,

She added:

For women who have been in isolation with violent partners who abuse them or control their decisions, even calling for information has been extremely difficult. Strict quarantines make it difficult for women to travel. For many, if a police officer stops them and asks where they’re going, it’s not easy to say they’re going to get an abortion.

Resilient campaigns

However, local activists are trying to find ways to get reproductive services to those who need it. For example, Miles, an organisation in Chile, helps arrange transport for people who want abortions to reach doctors who approve.

Amnesty International welcomed Argentina’s step towards legalisation, urging the Senate to pass the bill into law.

Amnesty International’s Argentina executive Mariela Belski said:

This is an achievement of the women’s movement and a demand from different social groups who have never given up on the cause. The Senate cannot afford to turn its back on women once again and must press forward to pass the law, without further delay. Legal abortion is an imperative for social justice, for reproductive justice and for human rights.

The debate of the past few years has been very positive and has succeeded in making visible the failure of the criminalization of women as a state policy. The Senate must now put an end to clandestine abortions. The legalization of abortion saves lives and addresses a key public health issue.

Featured image via YouTube/Al Jazeera English

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us