A few days back, Argentina became one of just a handful of Latin-American countries to allow elective abortion. As Chile, their neighbor, initiated its own debate on decriminalizing a procedure denied to most women on the continent; abortion is now legal in Argentina.
President Alberto Fernandez signed a law that allows abortion until 14 weeks of pregnancy. This was passed by the Senate on December 30th of 2020.
Fernandez said that this is one way of equalizing the society. Moreover, he said that this is a big and a great step towards equal rights.
Today we have a better, more equal society. This is a great step towards equal rights, giving women the possibility to decide.”
“Long Struggle Now Culminated”
In addition to that, Fernandez also said that it was “the culmination of a long struggle;” waged by those wanting an end to abortion being “a crime that obliges secrecy and exposure to the risks involved” in back street procedures.
The government of Argentina estimates that since 1983 more than 3,000 women have died from up to more than 500,000 secret abortions carried out within their country of 44 million people.
The Congress passed the bill last month (December). It was backed by women’s right proponents; despite strong opposition from Evangelical Christians and traditional Roman Catholics and disapproval by Pope Francis.
As a result, abortion is now legal in Argentina; and they become the largest of just four (4) Latin American countries where women can choose to have an abortion.
They sit together with:
- Uruguay; and
Abortion in Other Countries
In Mexico, terminations are allowed only in the state of Oaxaca and in Mexico City.
The region has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion law. In El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, the procedure is banned. Moreover, women can be sent to jail even for having a miscarriage of an unborn child.
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In Argentina, terminations were allowed only if the pregnancy was the result of rape or if it endangered the woman’s life.
Between 2012 and 2020, more than 1,500 court cases were brought for abortions, according to the Center for Legal and Social Studies.
Maria Teresa Bosio, President of a Group of Catholics, said that this particular law “represents the state’s comprehension of what reproductive autonomy signifies to women.”
What Does the Law Allow?
The law allows for health care workers to express conscientious objection, but states that the abortion must be provided free of charge within the 10 days of a request.
According to this law, any woman can request the procedure at any public or private health facility.
Doctors are legally bound to either perform it or, if they are conscientious objectors, refer the patient to another physician or health facility.
The law will take effect eight (8) days after its signing and its official publication; it took place on the 15th of January, 2021.
Major Step in a Conservative Region
Senators voted in favor of the bill after a marathon session with 38 in favor, and 29 against it. It had one abstention.
The bill had been approved by the Chamber Deputies earlier this month. On the other hand, the Catholic Church, which remains highly influential in Latin America, had opposed the move.
They called on to senators to reject the bill. Pro-choice activists hope the passing of the law in Argentina; one of the largest and most influential countries in the region; will inspire other countries to follow suit.
Large crowds of campaigners both for and against abortion had gathered outside Congress in the capital Buenos Aires. This was then followed the debate on huge screens. When the vote finally happened in the early hours of Wednesday, there was jubilation in the pro0choice camp.
The State Guarantees
Fernandez also promulgated a 1,000-day guarantee. This was about the fact that not only women will receive state aid during pregnancy; also for their child’s first three (3) years.
There will be a state behind (women) that will give them health care and guarantees so that their child can grow and develop.”
Chile also currently restricts abortion to cases of rape or when a woman’s life in endangered whilst In the middle of the pregnancy. Until as recently as 2017, the country banned the procedure outright.
On Wednesday, women there took the streets of Santiago to demand access to abortion as the debate opened in Chile’s Congress on a bill seeking to allow elective abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy.
The protesters sported green neck scarves, like the ones worn by their counterparts in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America rallying for women’s reproductive rights.
What are your thoughts about abortion being legal in Argentina? Do you think that it’s a better option, as how the country is seeing it?
Source: The Guardian