By Kendyl Brower
Abortion rights activists decked out in green clothing parade outside of Buenos Aires’ congressional palace. The occasion? Argentina’s Senate passed the historic law that legalized abortions.
In a country where Catholicism runs deep, the fight for abortion rights has been a streneous journey. Argentina practiced some tightest abortion regulations in the world; rape or health risks were the only exeptions, while other women were penalized for abortions and condemned by the public. Moreover, 92% of Argentinians identify as Catholic according to the CIA, so abortion laws prompted complicated ethical and religious debate. Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, expressed his view to Congresswoman Victoria Morales: “the problem of abortion is not primarily a question of religion, but of human ethics, first and foremost of any religious denomination.” While the Church of Argentina pleaded the Senate to vote against the bill, it eventually won with 38 votes in favor, 29 against, and one abstention.
However, this was not the Senate’s first debate over abortions. Back in 2018 a similar bill was proposed, yet the conservative administration of former President Mauricio Macri downturned it. Now, the center-left government sided with the pro-choice activists. One senator, Silvina Garcia Larraburu, changed her stance from 2018, “My vote is in favour of free women, of women who can decide according to their own conscience.”
The new law states that abortions will be legalized until the 14th week of pregnancy and in cases of rape or health concerns. Optimistically, President Fernandez writes, “Safe, legal and free abortion is now law … Today we are a better society.”
Argentina is now just one of three South American countries to decriminalize abortions. As the largest country to do so, Argentina sparks hope for the entire continent. Argentina’s ability to overcome religious condemnation and tight regulation sets a precedent for other Latin American countries who face the same limiting factors.