Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Majority of Argentine Senators to Vote Against Abortion Bill

Majority of Argentine Senators to Vote Against Abortion Bill

On Thursday, anti-abortion activists and abortion-rights advocates - many wearing green bandanas that have come to symbolize the country's growing women's rights movement - stood outside the National Congress as the Senate debate dragged on for more than 16 hours before finally going to a vote. A partition was set up to keep them separated.

"There are positive points that have come out of this, first of all, that even when there are differing ways of thinking, there's a square in peace right now, with thousands of people defending their convictions", said Buenos Aires provincial Gov. Maria Eugenia Vidal, who was against the measure.

In June, the lower house narrowly passed after a session lasting almost 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside.

Ousset said while working at the hospital she realized there was another reality: abortions were being performed in private clinics with better conditions.

Politicians must now wait a year to resubmit the legislation.

The mostly-Catholic country is also home to Pope Francis, who has called abortion the "white glove" equivalent of Nazi eugenics programs. For now, abortion will only remain an option in cases of rape or if the mother's life is in danger.

The bill had sought to legalise abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and would have seen Argentina join Uruguay and Cuba as the only countries in Latin America to fully decriminalise abortion.

In testimony before Congress, Duro emphasized that "legal abortion also kills", adding that it doesn't solve maternal mortality.

Pro-choice campaigners have for years tried to get bills passed in Argentina, where the population is overwhelmingly roman catholic.

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What activists can count on, though, is huge support from citizens.

Demonstrators on both sides of the debate gathered outside parliament as voting took place.

Macri said he was personally against abortion, but would sign the bill if it passed.

The conservative president released a letter Wednesday welcoming the debate and saying this is all about more than legalizing abortion or not.

"We've shown that we have matured as a society, and that we can debate with the depth and seriousness that all Argentines expected. and democracy won", Macri said.

"Let's recognize that we're facing a public health tragedy because 3,030 women who have died is a tragedy", said Magdalena Odarda, a senator for Rio Negro province.

Last month, campaigner Elsa Schvartzman told AFP the movement aimed to end "avoidable deaths of women". The Archbishop of Buenos Aires appealed to Senators not to interrupt "the honorable and praiseworthy tradition of legislating for the common good and for a culture of life, protecting the weakest and most defenseless, who are waiting to participate in history".

Various charities have estimated that 500,000 illegal, secret abortions are carried out every year in Argentina, resulting in around 100 deaths.

Argentina senators struck down a bill Thursday that would have eased the country's strict anti-abortion law, leading to both cries and celebrations outside.

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