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  • Abortion rights activists gather as lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill legalizing abortion, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Aug. 8, 2018.

    Abortion rights activists gather as lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill legalizing abortion, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Aug. 8, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 August 2018

As the Argentine Senate begins debating a bill to legalize abortions 38 senators have announced they will vote against the bill. 

As Argentina’s Senate begins debating the Law for the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancies, to legalize abortions up to 14 weeks into pregnancy, preliminary counts suggest at least 38 of the country's 72 Senator will vote against a bill. Only 31 Senators will vote for the bill, signaling a defeat for activists and the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion.

Argentina’s Fight for Abortion: Latin American Feminism Has Won

Initial reports had suggested that 39 senators were going to vote against the bill, but later in the day, teleSUR's correspondent said the latest count suggested 38 will probably reject the bill legalizing abortion. 

The bill went to the Senate after being approved with 129 votes in the lower chamber of Congress on June 14, after legislators heard 770 experts and activists during five months. On the day of the vote around one million people gathered outside Congress in a vigil to defend the bill.

The National Campaign issued a call for activists and supporters to mobilize outside Congress for a second vigil to demand the Senate's approval. On Monday the Campaign announced they expect between two and three million people in Wednesday’s vigil.   

If the bill is rejected, the National Campaign would have to wait until March 1, 2019, when another Congressional period begins, to present the law once again. However, this is unlikely because legislative elections are scheduled for October 2019, and the senators who would vote the bill down are the same ones that would debate the bill next March.

People who defend the right for women and pregnant persons to access legal and safe abortion to protect the lives of between 370,000 - 520,000 people who get unsafe abortions in underground clinics have vowed to fill the streets surrounding congress to demand the approval of the law.

In Argentina, complications due to unsafe abortions are the leading cause of maternal mortality. In the time that the Senate was debating the bill, three women died due to complications after getting an unsafe abortion.

Women in over 30 countries, in Latin America and around the world, have organized vigils to support the demand for safe abortions in Argentina. Human rights groups have also expressed their support and urged Argentine legislators to approve the bill and protect women’s right to life and reproductive rights.

However, the Catholic church and other Christian sects have pressured legislators to reject the bill. 

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