Monday, July 26, 2021

ARGENTINA | 11-08-2018 12:29

Government rules out referendum on abortion reform

The government says it will not consider holding a referendum, following the Senate’s rejection of a bill to legalise the procedure up until the 14th week of pregnancy.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday at the Casa Rosada, Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña said a public vote on the issue was not on the cards, though he said the government would propose alterations to Argentina’s Criminal Code.

“We do not believe that a popular consultation is an option,” he confirmed, adding that the government’s official priority in the wake of the vote was to prevent “unwanted pregnancies” and to “improve access to healthcare.”

Confirming reports in local outlets, Peña announced that on August 21 the government would propose reforms to the penal code, though he would not confirm would they would be. The government could look to create further exemptions, through which judges are granted the right to drop criminal charges against those who undergo clandestine abortions or waive prison sentences. Any reforms, however, would still maintain that abortion is a crime and emphasise the right to life.

Speaking earlier in the day, President Mauricio Macri used a speech to argue that the abortion debate was part of a series of “that are beginning and would continue,” as he called for improved sexual education in Argentina’s schools.

“It is very important that we continue working toward the comprehensive education of teachers, including in the area of sex education,” the president said. “We need special advice in schools and we also need ... to introduce long-lasting contraceptive methods, which are much more effective in these areas.”

Macri said that his government will work on improving public policies and expanding awareness campaigns.

He said the government would improve access to “free contraceptives” across the country, particularly in “Buenos Aires Province and the north” of Argentina, the region with the highest rate of unwanted teen pregnancies.

“It is an area that we are committed to,” he said. “We have to continue working toward an outcome in which these young women can choose and plan their own lives.”

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