On Wednesday, Argentina became the largest nation in Latin America to legalize abortion. In a conservative region like Argentina, it is the result of a grass-roots movement that turned years of rallies into political power.
After 12 hours of dramatic debate over the tensions between the long-dominant Roman Catholic Church and a growing feminist movement, a gripping voting session in the early morning led to the measure’s approval by a wider-than-expected margin of 38 to 29, with one abstention.
As the news came out, large crowds of campaigners both for and against abortion had gathered outside Congress in the capital Buenos Aires to try to sway undecided senators. Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, has promised to sign the bill into law, making it legal for women to end pregnancies for any reason up to 14 weeks. After that, there will be exceptions allowed for rape and the health of the mother.
Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana are the only other countries in Latin America to allow abortion on request. In Argentina, like a number of other countries in the region, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s health was at risk.
“I sit here today representing all the women who have died having clandestine abortions,” said Ms Durango, who was the first lawmaker to speak during the debate that began Tuesday. “Abortion is a reality and it has been taking place since time immemorial.”
The Son of God was born an outcast, in order to tell us that every outcast is a child of God. He came into the world as each child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) December 29, 2020
Catholic and evangelical leaders had called on supporters to observe a day of prayer and fasting on Monday to reflect on “the killing of so many innocent children.” Church leaders have been working throughout the year to galvanize the faithful, and large anti-abortion marches have taken place across the country.
On Tuesday, opponents of legal abortion, who tend to wear baby blue, displayed a large doll that looked like a fetus, which they sprayed with fake blood.