Monday, June 27

Argentina Abortion: Giant Leap | Opinion

Several activists show their joy after the approval of the abortion law in Argentina.
Several activists show their joy after the approval of the abortion law in Argentina.RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

After two years of intense public debate, the Argentine Senate has approved the law that allows the voluntary interruption of pregnancy until the 14th week of gestation. It thus repeals a very restrictive law of 1921 that only allowed abortion in the event of rape or risk to the life of the mother and that for 99 years has condemned Argentine women to abort in hiding under the threat of being tried and sentenced to penalties. jail if they were discovered. Finally, the social mobilization of women in favor of the right to decide about their own bodies has allowed the lifting of an ancestral taboo and made a majority of senators aware of the need to change an anachronistic and unjust law. The modification of the law was part of the current government’s commitments, but it was not certain that it could pass the approval process in the Senate. A similar law promoted in 2018 was shipwrecked precisely in the Upper House. This time he has managed to pass the test with 38 votes in favor, 29 against and one abstention.

Argentina is thus one of the few countries that have legalized abortion in Latin America, a continent where the social and reproductive rights of women continue to be deferred. It is hoped that the success achieved by the Argentine green wave movement will inspire and reinforce the struggle of women in the rest of the continent to be able to freely decide whether or not they want to be mothers. Until now, only four Latin American countries recognized the right to abortion: Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana and French Guiana, in addition to the Mexican state of Oaxaca and Mexico City. In the rest, abortion is prohibited or allowed only in exceptional cases, as has happened until now in Argentina, so that millions of women are forced every year to interrupt their pregnancies in hiding and in many cases to put their lives at risk . According to the WHO, only one in four abortions is done safely. It is estimated that around half a million clandestine abortions take place each year in Argentina. In 2018 38 women died and 39,000 had to be hospitalized for the consequences. From now on, women who want to have an abortion will be able to do so for free and in safe conditions in the health network.

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Clandestine abortion constitutes a serious health problem in Latin America and the mortality associated with the termination of pregnancy in inappropriate sanitary conditions is one of the most dramatic gaps of our time. This gap causes many women to die or suffer persecution for a decision that in other countries is part of consolidated rights. Its persistence in Latin America is due to the influence of the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which from dogmatic religious positions believe they have the right to impose their particular beliefs on everyone else. The freedom of women continues to be at the center of the political battle because consequences that alter the patriarchal order derive from it. In the XXI century, the freedom to decide on one’s own body continues to be a right to be conquered in most of Latin America. It would be desirable that the step taken by Argentina could become the domino piece capable of deciding the rest of the continent.

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