The End of Clandestine Abortion in Argentina

I woke up in the wee hours this morning, desperate for the results of the vote. Yes! We won 38-29, with one abstention. The New York Times wrote, “Argentina Legalizes Abortion, a milestone in a conservative region.”

The Argentine Senate debated all day yesterday until dawn today on a bill for the legalization of safe, free and legal abortion. More than 70 legislators gave speeches, pro and con, until 4 a.m. President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner framed the discussion as a matter of public health. Earlier this month, the House also voted yes to legal, safe, and free abortion, 131-117. A similar bill passed the House in 2018, but failed in the Senate, 38-31. Ni Una Menos, the movement that organized in 2015 to protest violence against women, became a driving force behind the campaign for the legalization of abortion. Other profound changes in Argentina’s cultural and political landscape in recent years include equality in marriage, gender parity, and the rights of homosexuals and transgender people.

Yesterday was a very hot and humid day in Buenos Aires. Hundreds of women gathered in front of Congress with their flags and green scarves, and they stayed until the vote was over. The symbol of the movement is a broken clothes hanger on a green background.

The Pope has said that abortion is not a religious issue but a human one.

Women’s rights are Human rights. The rights of women to legal, safe and free abortion is now law. We are the fifth Latin American country that has legalized abortion, joining Mexico, Cuba, Guyana and Uruguay. Clandestine abortion has always been the leading cause of maternal death in Argentina. The new law guarantees legal, safe and free abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy. After 14 weeks, an abortion is allowed if the health of the mother or baby is at risk. President Alberto Fernández and VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have made women’s rights a central issue of this presidency. Together they have scored a momentous victory for Argentina. A sad day, perhaps, for the Catholic Church and the Evangelicals. Too bad, so sad. But Pope Francis doesn’t seem to be too disturbed. Argentina has finally come out of the shadows.

Over and Out from Buenos Aires.

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