As expected, Argentina senate just passed a law legalizing abortion.
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 woman’s health.
Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana are the only other countries in Latin America to allow abortion on request. Argentina, like a number of other countries in the region, had previously permitted abortion in cases of rape or if the pregnancy posed a risk to a woman’s health; other Latin American countries have stricter limits or total prohibitions.
Supporters of the abortion measure, including Senator Norma Durango, said legalizing abortion would simply bring the practice out of the shadows. Researchers say hundreds of thousands of underground abortions are performed in Argentina every year.
Around 40,000 women were hospitalized for complications related to abortions in 2016, according to the latest available data from the Health Ministry, while at least 65 women died between 2016 and 2018 from complications, according to a report by Argentina’s Access to Safe Abortion Network.
“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.”
Mr. Fernández and his vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, came to see abortion as one of the few items on their agenda they could advance amid a torrent of challenges. Ms. Kirchner, who led Argentina as president from 2007 to 2015, opposed legalizing abortion during most of her political career.
Her position shifted in the lead-up to the vote in 2018, when tens of thousands of women demonstrated across Argentina in support of making access to abortion on request legal. Ms. Kirchner, who was then a senator, has said her daughter played a key role in changing her mind.
“Through our years of activism, we’ve managed to get people to change their positions,” said Celeste Mac Dougall, an abortion rights advocate. “Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is the most obvious example that opinions can change.”