Argentina lawmakers pass abortion bill amid pressure from activists

The lower house of Argentina’s legislature has passed a bill that would legalize abortion-on-demand up to 14 weeks in pregnancy, drawing dismay from pro-life groups and Catholics in the country.

The bill, passed Dec. 11, would permit abortions up to 14 weeks of gestation for any reason. The bill now proceeds to the upper house, the Senate, where it is expected to face greater opposition.

Fulfilling a presidential campaign promise, Argentine president Alberto Fernández introduced the bill to legalize abortion into the country’s legislature Nov. 17. Fernández took office a year ago and has made abortion legalization a focal point of his tenure as president.

Following a 20-hour debate, the country’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, passed the measure 131-117, with six abstentions.

Existing Argentine law allows abortion in cases when the mother’s life or health is in danger, or in cases of rape. Cuba and Uruguay are the only other countries in Latin America that have broadly legalized abortion.

This is the second time in two years that the Argentine Chamber of Deputies has passed a liberalizing abortion law. During April 2018, under the administration of Argentina’s previous president, the Senate rejected a similar bill.

On the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the bishops of Argentina raised prayers “for the care of the unborn life” and asked legislators to protect life from conception, and to not approve the abortion law.

Pro-life demonstrations against the bill took place in more than 500 cities across Argentina Nov. 28.

Unidad Provida, a pro-life organization, on Friday urged senators to “correct this violation of human rights and thus honor the will popular” of the Argentine majority that defends the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.

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