Argentina's Lower House Approves Bill to Legalize Abortion

(Photo : Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images) Pro-choice demonstrators celebrate after lower house representatives give half sanction to a bill to legalize abortion on December 11, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Lawmakers in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies on early Friday approved a bill to decriminalize abortion, giving way for a Senate vote before the end of the year.

According to The Associated Press, Argentina’s lawmakers proposed voluntary abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy.

It was a proposal from President in response long-sought demands to legalize abortion from women’s rights activists in Argentina.

The proposal was approved in a 131-117 vote with six abstentions after a debate that lasted from Thursday until Friday morning, said a report from Fox News. That is 20 hours of discussion on the bill.

Pro-, Anti-Abortion Protesters Gather on Argentina Streets

The decision was met by cheers and wild celebrations on the streets.

Protesters from both sides of the divide were gathered outside the Congress building, eagerly waiting for the vote, said Buenos Aires Times.

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 “Legal abortion now, safe and free,” chanted the pro-abortion activists.

It was reminiscent of the same scene two years ago when the bill was also passed by the lower house but was rejected by the more conservative Senate.

While pro-abortion protesters gathered outside wearing green scarves, women in light-blue scarves planned a “March for the Unborn Baby” on late Thursday not far from the other group of protesters.

Following the trend of Latin America’s most restrictive abortion laws, abortion is only allowed in Argentina in case of rape or danger to the woman’s life.

Prosecution could await women who seek abortion and the people who help them.

Only a few places allow for abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy like Mexico City, Cuba and Uruguay.

The proposal has been put forward in Congress eight times before in the majority-Catholic country.

Fernández said before getting elected that he would work to making the process voluntary and cost-free in the country.

Lower House Moves After 12-Year-Old Gets Denied Abortion

The decision comes just days after a 12-year-old girl, who was a victim of rape, was forced to give birth after being denied an abortion, reported We Are Mitu.

Local authorities pushed the girl to stay pregnant until the twins she was carrying could be delivered via C-section.

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In a statement, the Jujuy brand of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide said the National Directorate of Sexual health offered to “immediately resolve the situation” to help with the girl’s physical and emotional health.

However, the authorities who were in-charge rejected the proposal and did not allow the girl legal interruption of pregnancy.

The unidentified girl is reportedly not living with her parents, but there is no update on her health and whereabouts.

Doctors Can Refuse Abortion on Religious Grounds

Under the bill, there will be an allowable conscientious objection of doctors who do not want to carry out the procedure on religious grounds.

However, they have to refer the patients for care in another hospital.

Fernández also made a move for opponents of abortion through the “1,000 Days Plan” bill.

The proposal would provide greater support to poorer families so they avoid having to resort to abortion for financial reasons.

The bill also won support in the lower house, with 196 votes and five abstentions.

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