Argentine president Fernández to send bill legalising abortion to National Congress within 10 days

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

On Sunday in Argentina's National Congress, President of Argentina Alberto Fernández announced he is to send a bill to the congress in the next ten days which aims to legalise abortion of human pregnancy. The president had previously called it "a matter of public health".

From file: dozens of Argentine citizens seen protesting in favour of legalising abortion in 2019 (Image: Lara Va)

"[W]ithin the next 10 days, I will present a bill for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy that legalises abortion at the initial time of pregnancy and allows women to access the health system when they make the decision to abort", Fernández said. Thousands of people had gathered outside the National Congress with slogans supporting the legalisation of abortion of pregnancy.

From file: protestors protesting in favour of legalising abortion in Argentina in 2019 (Image: Lara Va)

Abortion of pregnancy is currently illegal in the Catholic-majority country, and is permitted only in two cases: if the pregnancy was a product of rape, or if it poses a risk to the woman. Fernández said the law has "condemned many women, generally of limited resources, to resort to abortive practices in absolute secrecy, putting their health and sometimes their lives at risk".

Estimates by the Argentinian government state about 350 thousand illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year. Illegal abortion is a crime punishable with a prison term in the Latin American country since 1921. Saying "there are many abortions despite the criminal threat" ((es))Spanish language: ‍hay muchos abortos pese a la amenaza penal, President Fernández elaborated, "A state that is present must protect citizens in general and obviously women in particular. And in the 21st Century, every society needs to respect the individual choice of its members to decide freely about their bodies ((es))Spanish language: ‍En el siglo XXI, toda sociedad necesita respetar la decisión individual de sus miembros para disponer libremente de sus cuerpos".

Following the president's announcements, the director of Argentina's Amnesty International, Mariela Belski, said the president had "heard the demands of women, adolescents and girls".

The proceedings of the abortion rights was criticised by archbishop Monsenor Jorge Eduardo Scheinig. Calling it a "culture of death" the archbishop said "We need to pray so that in Argentina, the yes to life is stronger than death."

Uruguay, Guyana and Cuba are the other Latin American countries where abortion during the early weeks of pregnancy is legal. Back in 2018, the Argentine congress approved a bill legalising abortion, but it was dismissed by the senate.