Rejected abortion legalization bill not the end of debate in Argentina

World Today

Argentine Senate debates legislation on legalizing abortionActivists against the legalization of abortion demonstrate outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires, on August 09, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO RAGGIO)

The vote is over, but the debate? Far from it.

Argentina’s Senate rejected a bill that would have legalized abortion in the first 14-weeks of pregnancy.

But as CGTN’s Joel Richards reports, both those for and against see it as a victory.

The historic debate lasted more than 15 hours. But while Argentina’s senate voted 38-31 not to legalize abortion, the issue is far from over.

For six months, the subject has dominated the public’s attention in the mostly Catholic country. Opinion has split into two camps: the green scarves in favor of broadening women’s rights, and the anti-abortion blue scarves.

Ana, a 23-year-old primary school teacher, is part of a group opposing abortion. She fundamentally disagreed with many parts of the proposed law.

“In a pregnancy, we are not talking about one body, we are talking about two,” she said. “We must defend rights of the baby in the woman, but also my rights as a woman. That is why want to save both lives: the woman’s and the unborn baby’s.”

On the other side of Congress, a sea of green talked and sang about a new kind of feminism, representing a young generation of women.

“We already won in the streets, in public opinion,” activist Cecilia Palmeiro said. “The subject of abortion is no longer a secret. It’s no longer clandestine. It’s out in the open. And if not today, we’re going to win eventually.”


Activists in favour of the legalization of abortion demonstrate outside Rio de Janeiro state legislative assembly (ALERJ) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 08, 2018.
Brazilian women march calling the Brazilian Supreme Court to vote on legalizing abortion. (AFP PHOTO / Mauro Pimentel)

Cecilia and Veronica Gago are members of feminist movement “Not One Less.” They know the world is watching what happens in Argentina.

“We feel this kind of internationalism is a very strong force for us,” Gago said.

While the defeat of the measure is viewed as a victory for the Catholic Church, many say it’s not an end to the controversy.

Despite the result in the Senate, organizers say there were more than one and a half million people on the streets outside Congress. The feeling is that sooner, rather than later, Argentina will legalize abortion.

Penal code reform is due later this month, which could see abortion decriminalized for now.