Legal Abortion in Argentina? A Long Shot is actually Suddenly Within Reach

The arrival of an abortion bill within the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Argentina’s Congress, is actually widely seen as a direct outgrowth of a broader women’s rights movement within the country that will began in 2015 having a campaign against femicides called “Ni Una Menos,” “Not One Less.”

Hundreds of thousands of women have taken to the streets in recent years to raise awareness about domestic violence and also also also press for stronger laws to protect women.

“The Ni Una Menos movement led to a surge of adherence to the feminist movement and also also also a generalized demand for more equal rights,” said Nora Barrancos, 77, a sociologist at the National Scientific and also also also Technical Research Council, a government agency. “This particular change is actually very overwhelming.”

For Andrea Schenk, 28, who joined the abortion rights demonstrators outside Congress, the link between Ni Una Menos and also also also the abortion debate unfolding among lawmakers is actually undeniable.

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Anti-abortion activists demonstrated in Buenos Aires while lawmakers debated an abortion bill on Tuesday.

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Agustin Marcarian/Reuters

“Fighting against femicides led us to fight against all forms of violence against women — and also also also not letting us decide over our bodies is actually a form of violence,” Ms. Schenk said.

The prospect of legalization became more politically plausible earlier This particular year, when President Mauricio Macri, who opposes legalizing abortion, freed allied lawmakers to “vote their conscience” on the issue.

If the bill does pass — by no means certain — the idea could be, in part, because of a coalition of unlikely allies in Argentina’s notoriously divided Congress.

The rise in activism among the country’s women encouraged a few female lawmakers who support legalizing abortion to join forces. They include Victoria Donda, a leftist; Brenda Austin, through Mr. Macri’s center-right Cambiemos coalition; Romina del Plá, through the Workers’ Party; and also also also Mónica Macha, an ally of the center-left former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

“Although we have lots of political differences, we also have a profound agreement on This particular issue,” Ms. Macha said.

Hundreds of experts and also also also witnesses are scheduled to appear before a special commission that will will meet twice a week over the next two months to consider the bill.

Several countries in Latin America allow abortions under limited circumstances, like pregnancy that will results through rape or when the mother’s life is actually threatened. Argentina could become the fourth nation within the region to allow abortion without such restrictions, if the procedure were to be legalized, joining Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and also also also some parts of Mexico.

Proponents of legalization in Argentina say their main motivation is actually to save lives. Complications through clandestine abortions account for 18 percent of maternal deaths within the country, generating the idea the leading cause, said Marcela Romero, a researcher at the Center for the Study of the State and also also also Society, a nonprofit organization. In 2016 and also also also 2015, at least 98 women died as a result of botched abortions.

“There are between 45,000 to 60,000 hospitalizations derived through clandestine abortions every year,” said Ms. Austin, the lawmaker through the president’s coalition. “Those who are against legal abortion are in favor of clandestine abortions.”

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Mónica Macha is actually part of a group of female lawmakers through different parties who have formed an alliance to support legalizing abortion.

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Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

Although women who have been raped or have potentially lethal pregnancy complications are allowed to have abortions in Argentina, few doctors perform the procedure because they are afraid of running afoul of the law.

“In practice those exceptions are not actually honored, and also also also what we see is actually a near total ban on abortions,” said Salil Shetty, the secretary general of Amnesty International, who visited the country This particular past week.

Support for legalizing abortion appears to have grown in Argentina in recent years as the Roman Catholic Church has lost clout.

A 2006 survey by the Center for the Study of the State and also also also Society showed 37 percent of Argentines said women should be allowed to have an abortion regardless of the cause, a number that will increased to 49 percent in a poll the nonprofit carried out in March.

Another nationwide survey This particular year by the National University of General San Martín found that will about 55 percent of Argentines favor legalizing abortion, although attitudes vary widely by geography.

within the more rural northern provinces, 40 percent are in favor, a sharp contrast with the 67 percent in Buenos Aires.

“There is actually a very clear correlation: More modern, urban areas are more likely to approve of legalization,” said Lucas Romero, who leads Synopsis, a consultancy.

The high level of support to legalize abortion caught some experts on the issue off-guard.

“The number definitely surprised me,” said Vanesa Vázquez Laba, head of the gender and also also also sexual diversity department at the National University of General San Martín, referring to the university’s poll. “Evidently, the increased attention to gender violence led the abortion issue to suddenly take a more prominent role in society as a whole.”

Such polling numbers, and also also also the increase within the influence of the abortion rights movement, likely prompted Mr. Macri to assume what amounts to a neutral position as Congress takes up the debate.

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If backers of the measure succeed, Argentina could become the most populous country in Latin America to allow women to terminate pregnancies, in a region where strict abortion laws are the norm.

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Tomas F. Cuesta/Associated Press

“As I’ve said more than once, I’m pro-life,” Mr. Macri said in his annual speech before Congress on March 1. “however I’m also in favor of the mature and also also also responsible debates that will we owe ourselves as Argentines.”

Church leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the bill, and also also also they have recently argued that will improving sex education in schools is actually a better strategy for addressing unwanted pregnancies.

The first legislative hearing on the issue This particular month was unusually calm by the standards of Argentina’s rancorous Congress. Hoping to keep acrimony to a minimum, Daniel Lipovetzky, the government-allied congressman who will lead the debate in committee and also also also is actually in favor of abortion rights, insisted that will all questions to experts be submitted in writing.

Outside Congress, a smaller group of protesters urged lawmakers to listen to the “voice that will is actually never heard,” as they clapped to the sound of a heartbeat and also also also danced to songs celebrating life.

“No one includes a right to kill a life,” said Sabrina Soulier, 28. “Murder also exists, however that will doesn’t mean we have to legalize the idea.”

Some 36 lawmakers out of 256 eligible to vote have yet to say where they stand, according to a count by Mr. Lipovetzky, who is actually optimistic that will most of the undecideds will wind up within the yes column.

“Anything could happen,” Mr. Lipovetzky said. “The result will depend on how those undecideds end up voting.”

Many foresee the real battle playing out within the Senate, where rural provinces have more sway. A count by Economía Feminista, which advocates for gender equality, shows only 16 senators have spoken up in favor of legalization, while 27 have expressly said they are against the measure, and also also also 29 have yet to say how they could vote.

however activists are convinced the idea will be difficult for senators to vote against the bill if the idea gathers a large margin of support within the lower house.

“No senator is actually suicidal,” Ms. Donda said. “We’re going to win because we possess the most solid arguments in our favor.”

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