Argentina Senate votes against legalising abortion


Argentina's Senate on Thursday rejected a bill to legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, an issue that has divided the homeland of Pope Francis.

But the Supreme Federal Tribunal recently held an extraordinary session to hear arguments on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In Chile, the constitutional Court previous year upheld legislation ending the Andean nation's absolute ban on abortions, permitting the procedure when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

Following Thursday's vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing hard, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.

Tensions ran high during the legislative debate - which lasted well into the morning - with some members of the lower chamber being barred from the Argentine Senate and the vice president hurling insults at a senator.

Global human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

"Fortunately, women are gaining spaces and we've been learning from those spaces that they're demanding", said Gustavo Bayley, a tattoo artist wearing the abortion movement's green handkerchief on his arm.

In March, Francis sent a letter to the Argentine people urging them to "contribute to the defense of life and justice" as the abortion debate intensified. The claim is belied by the health ministry's own statistics, which showed that in 2016 about seven times as many women died in childbirth as compared to abortion.

Pro-life advocates from the country's Catholic Church likely helped swing the vote in favor of life.

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.

IWHC focuses its work in the UN, training global abortion activists in the art of lobbying and preparing activists from a number of nations, including Argentina. "We have to go to the causes of abortion and not abortion as a solution".

"Just because the bill got shot down, it will not stop the movement", said Paula Avila-Guillen, a director of Women's Equality Center, an abortion rights advocacy group.

At the same time, Cardinal Poli called on Catholics to find space in their communities to allow pregnant women in difficulty "to share their fears and to feel the embrace and tenderness of women who had the joy of giving birth to a child, despite all difficulties".

In neighboring Chile, the Constitutional Court previous year upheld a measure that would end that country's absolute ban on abortions, permitting abortions when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

Women's movements across South America have been pushing against decades-old abortion prohibitions. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead. Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned.

Small groups rallied in other countries across the region to voice support for the Argentine abortion measure, including in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

"It is not a question of beliefs, but of a problem that exists", Fernandez said.