After an almost two-hour long debate, during which some lawmakers spoke in person and others remotely, the Buenos Aires City Legislature voted Thursday to adopt the Legal Interruption of Pregnancy (ILE) medical protocol in the nation's capital.
The ILE protocol lays out the steps for terminating a pregnancy in circumstances authorised under Argentina's penal code, which includes pregnancies that are a result of rape or if the foetus endangers the life or health of the woman.
The National Protocol for the Comprehensive Care of People with the Right to Legal Termination of Pregnancy, as it is fully named, was approved with 50 votes in favour, seven against and three abstentions.
The draft law for adherence to the ILE protocol was presented last February by the Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion campaign group and had the support of more than 40 of 60 deputies prior to the vote.
The protocol recognises the right of adolescents (in this case those aged under 16) to decide on the termination of their pregnancies, in cases falling within the law in accordance with World Health Organisation recommendations.
It indicates that girls aged between 13 and 16 years old do not need authorisation from their parents or guardians to seek the procedure, unless it involves a high level of risk. Those under 13 do need permission from their parents or guardians.
The capital had not formally adhered to the protocol introduced in late 2019 by Ginés González García on behalf of the national Health Ministry, which guarantees comprehensive care for people with the right to legal termination of pregnancy.
In the City of Buenos Aires, there has been a protocol since 2012 that, according to the Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion “is restrictive and does not comply with the provisions of the FAL ruling. Thanks to collective shelters that were made with the support of many organisations, the restrictive articles are not in force.”
With the approval of the law of adherence to the national protocol, people with the ability to conceive and professionals “will have a more adequate framework for guaranteeing their rights. In the City, we need, as recommended by the protocol, mifepristone approved by ANMAT, adequate practices in the second trimester and to stop mistreating those who decide to opt for their right to abort," said the organisation's branch in the city.
During the debate, there were heated exchanges between legislators in favour and against the position, with the Juntos por el Cambio bloc mostly supporting the project, albeit with some division. At one point, lawmaker Carolina Estebarena spoke of the violations against minors and cited in her speech the "National Prayer Breakfast."
"The exposition of the legislator Estebarena is unaccetapble. The rape of a minor remains a crime of public instance and that is not modified by the protocol. By progressive autonomy in the #ProtocoloILEenCABA the decision remains that of the pregnant person," Clara Noceti, one of the representatives of the Network of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide, which is part of the National Campaign, posted on Twitter.