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Argentinian Government Takes Step Towards Legalising Abortion

15 June 2018

 
Argentinian pro-lifers had urged lawmakers to "Save Both Lives".

Argentina's Chamber of Deputies has backed a bill legalising abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, by 129 votes to 125.

The debate lasted more than 22 hours, over Wednesday and Thursday. Only three hours before the vote, three Deputies announced on Twitter that they had changed their minds and were now going to vote in favour of decriminalising abortion.

At the final count, 129 members of the Chamber of Deputies voted in favour and 125 against while one abstained.

Argentina is the third nation in Latin America to legalise abortion after Cuba and Uruguay.

The ‘complex’ Senate

Prior to the vote, Lucas Romero, the head of political consultancy Synopsis remarked that even if the bill is approved by the lower house, there is no guarantee the bill will become law.

The legislative branch of the government of Argentina is constituted by a 72-seat Senate (upper house) and a 257-seat Chamber of Deputies (lower house).

“The situation in the Senate is even more complex because, historically speaking, it has a more conservative tendency," Romero said, noting that preliminary surveys have shown a clear rejection of the measure by a majority of senators.

Children with special needs at risk

The square outside Argentina's Congress was divided by fences Wednesday, as pro-abortion protesters gathered to beat drums and chant.

Pro-life groups have emphasised that babies with disabilities will be at risk of abortion if the legislation passes.

Unidad Provida, (Pro-Life Unity), an Argentine NGO that serves as an umbrella group for some 100 pro-life organisations, rallied under the slogans “Salvemos Las Dos Vidas” (Save Both Lives) and “No Al Aborto En Argentina” (No to Abortion in Argentina).

“We need the support of our Latin American brothers and sisters in this crucial time for our country…We don't want this throwaway politics. We believe abortion is never the solution and we are standing up for 'Let's Save Both Lives,'” Pro-Life Unity said in a press release.

Building a law on ‘innocent blood’

Some of the lawmakers taking part in the debate said they had been swayed by the pro-choice arguments aired in the debate. They said that while they personally remained opposed to abortion, they saw the need for women to have access to abortion.

But many others did not change their minds. Horacio Goicoechea of the Radical Civic Union made an impassioned plea for his colleagues to vote "no", saying: "We're building a law on innocent blood."

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