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ARGENTINA | 04-07-2018 13:48

Senate starts debating historic abortion bill

Activists on both sides hold separate protests in front of the Congress building to coincide with the start of Senate discussions.

Pro- and anti-abortion activists began a series of demonstrations outside the national Congress yesterday as the Senate began debating the historic abortion bill passed by the lower house Chamber of Deputies last month.

Activists on both sides announced separate protests in front of the Congress building to coincide with the start of Senate discussions and keep up the pressure on lawmakers. 

A final debate on the matter will be held on August 8.

Last month, the lower house backed a bill decriminalising abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and beyond that in cases where the infant would not survive after birth, by 129 votes to 125. 

Previously, abortion was only legal in cases of rape or when the life or health of the mother was at risk.

Although Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalise same-sex marriage eight years ago despite strong Church opposition, abortion remains an even more sensitive issue in the nation.

It is generally accepted by most analysts that the abortion bill will have a rougher time in the Senate than the Chamber of Deputies. Around half of the upper house's 72 senators have said they are opposed to the bill, although around 10 have not yet expressed their position publically.

President Mauricio Macri has said he will not veto the bill if it passes, despite making it clear he is "in favour of life."

Anti-abortion protestors, backed by the Catholic Church, were due to hand over thousands of signatures to senators on Tuesday, asking them to reject the bill. At the same time, pro-abortionists took to the streets with banners, music and chanting expressing their support for reform.

- TIMES/AFP

 

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