Argentina: Abortion law reform bid defeated in the Senate

Senators in Argentina have rejected a proposal to overhaul the South American country’s restrictive abortion laws.

Abortion is currently only available in Argentina where the pregnancy has arisen from rape or where the mother’s life is at risk, but lawmakers have been debating legislation allowing for abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Over 60 Irish TDs and Senators wrote to their Argentinian counterparts last week to encourage them to approve the bill after it was endorsed by Argentina’s lower house of parliament.

They wrote: “We hope that our experience in Ireland illustrates that legislating to safeguard women’s access to safe and lawful abortion services is both necessary and possible.”

Argentina’s Senate debated the bill for more than 15 hours before eventually voting it down yesterday by 38-31, with two abstentions and one absentee.

The bill had already been narrowly endorsed by the Chamber of Deputies and President Mauricio Macri had given assurances he would not veto it.

Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina, said: “The Argentine lawmakers chose today to turn their backs on hundreds of thousands of women and girls who have been fighting for their sexual and reproductive rights.

“The senators who voted against this or abstained have therefore decided to agree on a system which forces women, girls and others who can become pregnant to undergo clandestine and unsafe abortions.

“All that this decision does is perpetuate the circle of violence which women, girls and others who can become pregnant are forced into. The executive branch had sent a message by opening the debate, but the legislative branch has not risen to the occasion.”

Sorcha Tunney, Amnesty International Ireland’s campaign coordinator for the ‘It’s Time’ campaign, added: “The Argentine Senate’s decision is not going to stop abortions; it will just continue to force pregnant people into unsafe abortions.

“Here in Ireland, over 60 TDs and Senators signed a letter calling on Argentinian legislators to listen to the voices women, girls and people who can become pregnant.

“After the historic repeal of the Eighth Amendment on May 26th we know that change is possible. We will continue to work in solidarity with women’s movements in Argentina and internationally. This is a global movement and the momentum for change will continue to grow.”