Argentine Senate rejects historic abortion law - USA

Clay Curtis
August 11, 2018

Police officers responded to the non-peaceful demonstrations with tear gas.

The bill had originally been passed by Congress' lower house by a narrow margin in June. Unsafe, illegal abortions are Argentina's leading cause of death for pregnant women.

"Today no one won", wrote the women who posts under the name Veronnica Diaz.

"The right to life is about to become the weakest of rights", said Mr Fiad.

Despite false warnings to the contrary, no woman or medical professional is in prison for practicing abortion in Argentina, despite its illegal status.

Many had camped in front of Argentina's National Congress since Wednesday night.

"There was talk of a green square and a light blue square".

The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis.

"It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason", Cardinal Mario Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, told churchgoers.

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Last month, Bochatey, 62, told AFP that "you can not make a law to justify the elimination of human life", but said the Church is against penal detention as a sanction for those carrying out illegal abortions. But in June, he said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi eugenics programmes.

"It was the thousands of young women who went out to the streets who made me change my opinion", she told the Senate Wednesday. "We can't implement as a public health policy a practice that everyone agrees is not good".

"Fortunately, women are gaining spaces and we've been learning from those spaces that they're demanding", said Gustavo Bayley, a tattoo artist wearing the abortion movement's green handkerchief on his arm. She said her mother had to do a clandestine abortion years ago when her infant died in the womb after seven months due to an infection. The drug is only sold under prescription, but for the poorest women the cost of the drug is out of reach.

Some resort to using a clothes hanger wire or knitting needle to break the amniotic sac inside the womb, others take toxic mixtures or herbs that can prove fatal. Local media say the pontiff, who has publicly expressed his deep-seated opposition to abortion, pressed Argentine lawmakers privately to persuade their colleagues to reject the legalization effort.

Celia Szusterman, trustee of the United Kingdom board of Pro-Mujer and director of the Latin America programme at the Institute for Statecraft, told CNN that the vote was "a step backward for women's rights and women's health".

Amnesty International collected more than 100,000 online signatures from around the globe urging Argentine senators to pass the bill.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (child murder) will be your ruin".

"This is just the beginning - our movement will continue till we get the right to abortion", she said. But the Supreme Federal Tribunal recently held an extraordinary session to hear arguments on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, abortion in the South American nation is only allowed in cases of rape or if it endangers the mother's health.

"Abortion is the ultimate red line for the church", Celia Szusterman, trustee of the United Kingdom board of Pro-Mujer and director of the Latin America program at the Institute for Statecraft, told CNN.

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