Argentina Abortion Bill: Country Braces for Historic Vote to Legalize Abortion

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4 Credit IVAN PISARENKO AFP

Worldwide human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

In mid-June, Argentina's lower house voted in favour of the bill by just 129 to 125, thanks in part to the anti-abortion President Mauricio Macri's insistence on pushing the bill through the legislature.

Argentina's Senate voted against legalizing elective abortion in the early hours of Thursday morning, dashing the hopes of pro-abortion rights advocates in the predominantly Catholic country, homeland of Pope Francis.

Argentina's senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. But despite that, an estimated half a million women have illegal terminations every year.

But the city's archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: "It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason".

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

For many of them, the methods used to induce an abortion include using an IV tube with a sharp wire clothes hanger or a knitting needle to try to break the amniotic sac inside womb.

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Hundreds of doctors who opposed the bill had laid their white medical coats outside the presidential palace, while the pro-choice movement - in their signature green - held larger demonstrations and drew support from the likes of The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood and actress Susan Sarandon. Amnesty International told legislators that "the world is watching".

"The human-rights group says that over the past 30 years, complications from risky abortions have accounted for a third of the maternal deaths in Argentina".

In Brazil, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether current law, which allows terminating pregnancies only in cases of rape, fetal deformation or when the mother's life is in danger, is unconstitutional.

Chile's Constitutional Court past year upheld legislation ending the Andean nation's absolute ban on abortions, permitting the procedure when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable or in cases of rape.

Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries that now have broadly legalized abortion.

"We need to make an effort to resolve this", she said.

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