Argentine Activists, Campaigners Face New Battle as Abortion Bill Heads to Senate
Women celebrate partial approval of legal abortion bill. (EFE)
by Camilo E. Mejia
According to preliminary counts, the bill has the support of 28 senators, it is opposed by 30, and 14 have not announced their position.
After claiming victory in the lower chamber of Argentina’s Congress, women's rights activists now face the uphill task of getting the bill passed in the Senate even with several of the country's senators pledging support for the law, which legalizes abortions up to 14th weeks.
On Thursday, Argentines who support legal, safe and free abortions celebrated the bill’s approval by 129 legislators. However, the law still needs approval in the Senate, and widespread support in the streets will play a key role as it did in the lower chamber.
The Senate, which has historically been more conservative than the lower chamber, will decide the bill’s fate since president Mauricio Macri has already announced he will respect the decision made by the legislative and will not veto the law.
According to a preliminary count by Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, there are 28 senators in favor, 30 against and 14 who have not announced their position. Miguel Pinchetto, leader of the Federal Argentina parliamentary bloc, told reporters he is confident the bill will become law in a less than a month. Support for the bill comes from all parties along the ideological spectrum.
Members of the governing party Cambiemos have also declared support for the bill, and the Front for Victory party, which has nine senators, announced they would vote for the law as a united bloc, confirming former president Cristina de Kirchner has reconsidered her opposition to legalizing abortion. The leaders of the two governing parties, Humberto Schiavoni of the Pro, and Luis Naidenoff of Cambiemos have expressed their support for the bill.
Naidenoff told local newspaper La Nacion “we are not facing a debate on faith, but rather on public health.”
Dates for the debate in the Senate remain unknown, but Pinchetto said it could happen after winter recess, in July. Analysts believe it will be essential to maintain the momentum and push for a prompt vote. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thursday June 14, 2018
IWHC Welcomes Argentina’s Historic Lower House Vote to Legalize Abortion
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 14, 2018
The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) welcomes today’s vote by Argentina’s lower house of parliament in favor of a bill that would decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
“When Argentinian feminists organize, they are an irresistible force! We salute their brilliant, strategic activism. The women of Argentina won’t be true citizens until they have full control over their bodies,” said Françoise Girard, president of IWHC. “The Senate must now listen closely and respond to the demands and needs of Argentine women.”
Current Argentinian law only permits abortion when the woman’s life or health is in danger, or in the case of rape. The most recent bill, which would reduce clandestine abortions, has renewed the hopes of feminist activists in the country, not least because the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion played a vital role in shaping the bill. In a country where religion plays an important role, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir-Argentina (CDD-Argentina), a longtime grantee partner of the IWHC, is one of the leaders of the National Campaign.
A recent survey conducted by Amnesty International and IWHC’s grantee partner Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES) in partnership with Quiddity shows that more than half of the population fully or partially supports decriminalization. According to data from Argentina’s Ministry of Health, between 370,000 to 522,000 clandestine abortions are performed each year, many of them unsafe.