ARGENTINA ABORTION PROTEST OVER THE YEARS
What does the bill mean?
Prior to the passing of the bill, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the woman’s health was at serious risk. Activists have been campaigning for years, calling for an overturning of this law that has been in existence since 1921. Two years ago, the country had almost passed the abortion bill, which was narrowly defeated.
Cause of denial to Abortion and its effect.
The Catholic Church and the evangelical community wield immense power and influence in Argentina and had strongly opposed the passing of this bill. In fact, for several decades, following the beliefs of the Catholic Church, even the sale of contraceptives was prohibited in the country.
There have been countless cases that explain why this bill is important for women in Argentina. One was in 2006 when the family of a 25-year-old survivor of rape, with severe physical and mental disabilities, petitioned the court for judicial authorization for abortion. Although the court granted permission, the procedure was blocked by a Catholic organization that had sought an injunction. The abortion could proceed only after the family appealed the injunction and the court allowed it.
What did lawmakers say?
The passage of the bill involved a marathon session where 38 senators voted in favor of the bill, with 29 against and one abstention. The bill had been one of President Alberto Fernández’s campaign promises where he had said he would reintroduce it after it was rejected in 2018. Fernández had said: “I’m Catholic but I have to legislate for everyone.”
After the passage of the bill, the president tweeted: “Today, we’re a better society, which widens women’s rights and guarantees public health.”
Vilma Ibarra, legal and technical secretary for the presidency, who drafted the law, was overcome with emotion, saying: “Never again will there be a woman killed in a clandestine abortion.”
But lawmakers who voted against the law continued to defend their stance.
“The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life,” Inés Blas, a lawmaker who voted against the law.
What impact will this have in Latin America?
Activists are hopeful that the passage of this law will have an impact on other countries in Latin America. At present, abortions are illegal in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. In Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and in some parts of Mexico, women can request an abortion, but only in specific cases, and each country has its own laws on the number of weeks of pregnancy within which the abortion is legal. The countries also have varying degrees of punishment and penalties meted out to girls and women, including jail.
Women’s rights activists have acknowledged that despite the new law in Argentina, the fight is far from over in the region. Anti-abortion groups and their religious and political backers have attempted to stall any progress in the process. Most recently, in Brazil’s conservative president Jair Bolsonaro had vowed to veto any pro-abortion bills in the country.
Research Coordinator - Umme Affa Ibnat Masud
Editor - Khushi Wadhwani
Illustrator - Ishika Chakaroborty
Graphics - Thea Sinsin