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Argentina legalized abortion, a milestone in conservative regions

Buenos Aires-Argentina on Wednesday became the largest country in Latin America to legalize abortion, held a landmark vote in conservative regions and won a victory for a grassroots movement that turned a multi-year rally into Political power.

The high vote in the Senate plunged the country into the early morning. The approval of this measure (a result of exceeding expectations of 38 votes to 29, with no abstentions) was exposed after 12 hours of frequent and intense debate. The tension is between the waning dominant Roman Catholic Church and the growing feminist movement.

As it unfolded, the Senate debate was followed by people who opposed and supported abortion rights, who camped in the squares around the neoclassical Capitol, chanting, cheering and praying as they tried to sway the few undecided decisions. . The respective camps of the senators.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández has promised to sign the bill into law, making it legal for women to terminate their pregnancy for any reason for up to 14 weeks. After that, there will be exceptions to rape and the mother’s health.

The effects of legalized voting may spread throughout Latin America, inspiring reproductive rights advocates elsewhere in the region and making them hope that other socially conservative countries will follow suit.

Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana are the only other countries in Latin America that allow abortion on request. Argentina, like many other countries in the region, has previously allowed abortion when rape or pregnancy poses a threat to women’s health; other Latin American countries have stricter restrictions or complete prohibitions.

Tamara Taraciuk Broner, deputy director of the Inter-American Observatory for Human Rights, said: “Legalizing abortion is a huge victory. It protects fundamental rights and will inspire change in Latin America. “However, it is foreseeable that this will also mobilize groups that support life.”

Argentina’s legalization of abortion is a strong condemnation of Pope Francis. Francis invested himself in the fierce political debate in his hometown on the eve of the vote and praised women’s groups from poor communities for their active actions against abortion. This is a setback for the fast-growing evangelical Protestant church in the country, as the Protestant church and the Catholic Church have joined forces to oppose this change.

27-year-old Abigail Pereira (Abigail Pereira) once protested legalization in Buenos Aires. “But I will continue to fight.”

This vote is a major legislative victory for Argentina’s center-left President Fernández, who made women’s rights at the core of his government’s agenda.

But first, this is a victory for Argentina’s grassroots abortion rights advocates, who have recently paved the way for other profound changes in the country’s cultural and political landscape, including marriage equality, gender parity initiatives, and transgender rights, and made Argentina in the region A leader in changes that have received widespread attention.

The Argentine House of Commons passed the bill by a vote of 131 to 117 earlier this month. Two years ago, the bill passed similar measures, but failed in the Senate by 38 votes to 31; then President Mauricio Macri said that he personally opposed legalization, but vowed that if the bill passed Congress will not veto the bill.

Mr. Fernandez ran for president on platforms including abortion rights, gender equality, and gay and transgender rights. He fulfilled these promises and even surprised some of his supporters.

Supporters of abortion measures, including Senator Norma Durango (Norma Durango), say that legalizing abortion will only make this practice stand out. Researchers say that Argentina has hundreds of thousands of underground abortions every year.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, about 40,000 women were hospitalized due to complications related to abortion in 2016, and according to Argentina’s Safe Abortion Network, between 2016 and 2018, at least 65 women were hospitalized due to complications. death.

Ms. Durango said: “I’m sitting here today representing all women who have lost their lives in secret abortions.” Ms. Durango was the first MP to speak in the debate that began on Tuesday. “Abortion is a reality and has been happening since ancient times.”

Efforts to relax abortion laws in Argentina have been decades old, but thanks to the promotion of the feminist movement Ni Una Menos, which was established in 2015 to protest violence against women, it has been part of the legalization movement ever since. driving force.

The symbol of this effort in Argentina-the green handkerchief-has become popular in several Latin American countries, including Mexico, where women from the movement flooded the streets to demand greater support for their rights.

Paula Ávila-Guillen, executive director of the Women’s Equality Center, said: “The green movement that started in Argentina has swept the entire region.” “From Mexico to Argentina, any activist wears a green handkerchief. As a symbol of the legalization of abortion.”

Just a few hours before the Senate took this measure on Tuesday afternoon, Pope Francis tried to distance himself from the political debate in Argentina. He issued a message that appeared to be aimed at a small number of senators who have yet to make a clear position.

He wrote on Twitter: “The Son of God was born as a wanderer, and the purpose is to tell us that every wanderer is a child of God.” “As every child comes to this world, whether he is weak or vulnerable He has entered the world so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love.”

Catholic and evangelical leaders called on supporters to observe a day of prayer and fasting on Monday to reflect on “the killing of many innocent children.” Throughout the year, church leaders have been working hard to inspire believers, and large-scale anti-abortion marches have been held across the country.

On Tuesday, people who opposed abortion tended to wear light blue. They showed a large doll that looked like a fetus and sprayed them with fake blood.

Fernández, a law professor who has long supported the legalization of abortion, made a campaign pledge and made it a legislative priority when he took office at the end of 2019. This decision brought political risks because he took over the troubled economy. After two years of recession, shortly after ordering one of the most stringent coronavirus lockdowns in the world.

But Mr. Fernández and his Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) began to view abortion as one of the few items on their agenda that they could advance amidst the many challenges. Ms. Kirchner (Ms. Kirchner), who led Argentina as president from 2007 to 2015, opposed the legalization of abortion for most of her political career.

Her position changed before the 2018 vote, when tens of thousands of women demonstrated across Argentina to support the legalization of abortion upon request. Ms. Kirchner, the senator at the time, said that her daughter played a key role in changing her mind.

“Through our years of activism, we have managed to induce people to change their positions,” said Celeste Mac Dougall, an abortion rights advocate. “Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) is the most obvious example of how opinions can be changed.”

Daniel Politi reported from Ernesto Londoño in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

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