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News > Latin America

Argentine Senate Starts Debating Historic Abortion Bill

  • Anti-abortion protesters in front of Argentina's Congress in Buenos Aires on July 3, 2018.

    Anti-abortion protesters in front of Argentina's Congress in Buenos Aires on July 3, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 July 2018

Pro- and anti-abortion activists announced separate protests in front of Congress to coincide with the start of Senate discussions on the issue.

Argentina's Senate began Tuesday debating a historic abortion bill passed by the lower house Chamber of Deputies last month.

US Supreme Court Sides with Anti-abortion Centers

In June, the lower house Chamber of Deputies backed a bill decriminalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and beyond that in cases where the infant would not survive after birth, by 129 votes to 125.

A final debate on the matter will be held on August 8. Argentina's 72 senators are largely opposed to the abortion bill, although 10 have not yet publicly revealed their stance.

Conservative President Mauricio Macri pushed the bill through parliament despite making it clear he opposed women's right to choose to interrupt their pregnancy.

Anti-abortion protesters, backed by Argentina's Catholic Church, were due to hand over thousands of signatures to senators on Tuesday, asking them to reject the bill.

At the same time, pro-choice protesters were due to take to the streets with banners and music to express their support.

Although Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage eight years ago despite strong Church opposition, abortion remained an even more sensitive issue in the staunchly Catholic homeland of Pope Francis.

It is estimated that between 370,000 and 520,000 women have abortions in illegal and unsafe conditions every year. Currently, women are allowed to have abortions only when the mother's life is at risk, or when pregnancy was the result of rape.

Abortion remains mostly illegal in Latin America. Only in Uruguay and Cuba is it entirely legal, as well as in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico.

In most countries it is permitted only in cases of rape and where there is a threat to the life of the mother or if the fetus is disabled.

In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua — traditionally Catholic countries but where Protestantism and atheism are on the rise -- abortion remains completely banned.

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