Monday, 24 September, 2018


Argentina's Senate Rejects Legalizing Abortion, Dashing Hopes Of Rights Advocates

Anti-abortion activists carry a Anti-abortion activists carry a"Yes To Life banner during a protest in Buenos Aires
Bennie Garza | 09 August, 2018, 22:58

The bill had narrowly passed in the lower house in July. The bill's Thursday rejection, activists tell CNN, represents a "huge step backward" for the country.

The proposed bill was met with contentious debate in Argentina; although protests in support of its passage broke out worldwide on Wednesday night, anti-abortion activists also held a rally outside the country's Congress and the Catholic Church held a "Mass for Life" vigil in Buenos Aires. The proposal was the subject of mass protests and the Aborto Legal Ya campaign, with supporters carrying signs on Wednesday displaying coat hangers and the word "Adios"-a reference to risky methods that have been used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies".

Worldwide human rights and women's groups were following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

"It was a bill against life from its conception, against women, said one anti-abortion woman, "that's why we are celebrating today". Currently, abortion in the South American nation is only allowed in cases of rape or if it endangers the mother's health.

US -based organizations such as Live Action, Human Defense Initiative and the National Right to Life Committee expressed their opposition to the bill as well. Moreover, efforts to present abortion as a health emergency, calling clandestine abortions the primary cause of maternal death in the country, statistics show that this claim is simply false.

Hundreds of doctors have staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace.

Margaret Atwood, author of "The Handmaid's Tale", also brought worldwide attention to the debate with an op-ed likening the country's anti-abortion laws to slavery.

The vote followed a referendum in Ireland, another traditionally Catholic country, in May that paved the way to legislate for the termination of fetuses.

Global human rights and women's groups have been closely following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said Argentina has a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women. Amnesty International told Argentine legislators that "the world is watching".

The rejected bill would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy for all women. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead.

In Brazil, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether current law - which allows terminating pregnancies only in cases of rape, fetal deformation or when the mother's life is in danger - is unconstitutional.

Argentine protesters dressed as handmaids from the book during rallies.

Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay permit early-term elective abortions, as does Mexico City.

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