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ARGENTINA | 27-05-2019 17:03

Bill to legalise abortion in Argentina presented before Congress

This is the eighth time a draft Law for the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (IVE) has been presented. Pañuelazo protests held across country in support.

Representatives from the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, accompanied by national deputies from various caucuses, today presented a new draft bill before Congress to legalise the procedure in Argentina.

This is the eighth time the draft 'Law for the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy' (IVE) has been presented. The date of its submission coincides, as it does each year, with the International Day of Action for Women's Health.

To show their support, demonstrators across the country held pañuelazo protests, holding up green handkerchiefs – the sign of the pro-choice movement – in more than 100 cities across the country. A major demonstration is expected outside Congress in the coming hours.

A press conference, called by legislators and campaigners, was due to take place at 5.30pm local time Monday.

The text of the new draft law – which would legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of gestation and authorise later procedures when a women's life is at risk or in the case of rape – is similar to that which was approved by the lower house Chamber of Deputies last year. That bill was later rejected by the Senate.

There are some modifications, however. The "unviability of the foetus' life" has been removed as a cause for justifying the procedure legally, while another change would not allow healthcare professionals to conscientiously object to carrying out the procedure.

Most analysts believe the bill will not be approved this legislative year, given that the make up of Congress has not altered.

Campaigners say they acknowledge the circumstances have not changed considerably in their favour, but emphasise they want to keep the topic on the public agenda and seek to win concessions from those opposed to the bill. The make-up of both chambers will change toward the end of the year, thanks to upcoming general elections.

In a statement to the press, Somos national lawmaker Victoria Donda, who heads the project with her signature, said that "the legalisation of abortion is the main debt that democracy has with women and pregnant people," underlining that "the secrecy of this procedure takes the lives of thousands in our country." 

Last year, the project won the signatures of 71 lawmakers from across both aisles. It is expected that number may be surpassed this time around.

The Health Ministry estimates that between 370,000 and 522,000 abortions are performed every year, most of them illegal.

- TIMES/NA

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