Argentina became the first major country in Latin America to legalize on-demand abortion, putting Pope Francis’ home at the forefront of a region that has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
After an overnight session, the Senate voted on Wednesday to support a bill allowing termination of pregnancy for the first 14 weeks, as well as in cases of rape and risk to the life or health of the woman. mother.
Thousands of pro-choice activists rallied outside Congress ahead of the vote and celebrated their victory as reform went 38 to 29, a wider margin than expected.
“This is a great victory for women and diversity, for a movement that has fought for decades and that has joined forces with a government that has come to expand rights. Today Argentina is a fairer place, ”said Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Minister for Women, Gender and Diversity, amid the celebrations.
The abortion reform comes after five years of unprecedented feminist activism in Argentina, which has found an ally in President Alberto Fernández, who pledged his support during the 2019 election campaign.
Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner opposed the bill during her two presidencies, but changed her mind during a previous attempt to pass the bill in 2018. The Peronist duo actively supported the bill and pressured senators to switch to the pro-choice side of the argument. .
Peronists Silvina García Larraburu and Sergio Leavy were among the senators who voted no in 2018, when a similar proposal was rejected by the upper house, but switched sides to tip the scales on Tuesday night. They cited openness to new views and precedents from other Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain that separated faith from law.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Natalia Gherardi, the leader of the Buenos Aires-based NGO ELA, said the Senate vote marked a victory for women who spoke out on the streets. “We have championed these ideas for many years, thinking of our daughters, our students and generations to come, whose voices are not often heard in political debates.”
She added: “The Argentine state made women’s decisions subject to its will because of a 100-year-old law, and this was simply not in line with the values of our democracy.”
In 2015, the feminist movement brought together hundreds of thousands of women under the Not one less (Not one less), which called for an end to gender-based violence, a topic rarely discussed in public.
“The extreme violence we see when a woman is murdered is linked to other, more subtle forms of violence. Denying women the right (to abortion) is also an attack on the freedom and autonomy of women to decide what to do with their own lives, ”Ms. Gherardi said.
Legalization of abortion is the latest liberal reform for Argentina, a country that over the past decade has also legalized gay marriage and transgender identities