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Argentina Passes Pro-Abortion Bill. Massive Celebrations In Streets.
Pro-choice demonstrators celebrate after the right to an abortion is legalized on December 30, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Argentina’s Senate approved a bill legalizing abortion for all babies up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, setting off mass celebrations in the streets.

In a November 22 letter to a group of women from Buenos Aires’ slums, Pope Francis, who hails from Argentina, wrote that the issue of abortion “is not primarily a religious matter but a matter of human ethics, preceding any religious confession.” He added, “And it’s good for us to ask two questions. Is it fair to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem? Is it fair to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?”

A bill permitting abortions was passed by the Argentinian House in 2018 but failed in the Senate.

“The law will legalize abortion in all cases up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion in Argentina, South America’s third-most populous country, is currently only permitted when a pregnancy results from rape or endangers the life or health of the woman. In all other circumstances, abortion is illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in jail,” CNN noted.

On December 11, Argentina’s lower house of Congress approved the bill, with 131 votes in favor, 117 against and 6 abstentions. Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, the government’s Women, Gender and Diversity minister, said after the house vote, “This is a fundamental step and recognition of a long struggle that women’s movements have been carrying out in our country for years. We are going to continue working so that the voluntary termination of pregnancy becomes law.”

Mariela Belski, an ambassador for the global women’s rights movement She Decides, said after the Senate vote on Wednesday, “Today, Argentina has made an emblematic step forward in defending the rights of women, girls and people with reproductive capacity,” adding that the bill sends “a strong message of hope to our entire continent — that we can change course against the criminalization of abortion and against clandestine abortions, which pose serious risks to the health and lives of millions of people. Both the law passed by the Argentine Congress today and the enormous effort of the women’s movement to achieve this are an inspiration to the Americas, and to the world.”

Cuba, Uruguay, French Guiana and Guyana permit elective abortions; Mexico City and the Mexican state of Oaxaca allow abortions while the rest of Mexico strongly restricts them. “El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname ban abortions in nearly all circumstances. Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama allow for abortion only if it’s to preserve the woman’s health or help save her life,” CNN noted, adding, “Experts say the new law will allow 13- to 16-year-olds with normal pregnancies to access abortion services without a guardian.”

The women from the slums had written to Francis:

We write to your Holiness, with the desire to ask for you to help us express to public opinion that we feel prisoners in a situation where our own family is compromised, as are our teenage daughters and future generations, that grow old with the idea that our life is not wanted and that we don’t have a right to have children because we are poor. We ask for your help in making our voice heard, surely you will be listened to with more attention that that our politicians give us. Our voice, like that of unborn children, is never heard … They classified us as a “factory of the poor” or “workers of the State.” Our reality as women who overcome life’s challenges with our children is overshadowed by women who claim to represent us without us giving our consent, stifling our true positions on the right to life. They do not want to listen to us, neither the legislators nor the journalists. If we did not have the slum priests who raise their voices for us, we would be even more alone.

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