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Deputies in Argentina Vote to Legalize Abortion with Help from the UN

by | Jun 15, 2018

By Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues

The Chamber of Deputies was the scene of a 23 hour debate on abortion which resulted in a close 129-125 vote to legalize abortion on demand for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is currently allowed in case of rape or when the life or health of the woman is at risk.

Late term abortion would be allowed if a pregnancy presents a risk to a woman’s “physical, psychological or social health,” broadly defined categories that pro-lifers fear will result in abortion on demand until birth. The bill—”Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy”– will advance to the Senate where it is expected to encounter greater opposition.

Pro-abortion mobilization had organized under the theme of a “green wave” with lawmakers and pro-abortion activists holding green scarves. The usual international pro-abortion NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] were active in the lobby effort including IPPF, Human Rights Watch and ‘Catholics for Choice’.

Pro-abortion lawmakers cited radical abortion recommendations from UN treaty bodies to support a Yes vote including the recent UN report by the Committee on the Rights of the Child which said that Argentine teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 should have access to abortion.

The report recommended the government provide “access to safe abortion services and postabortion care for adolescents, ensuring that their opinions are always heard and duly taken into account as part of the process of decision making.”

Ivana Radačić from Croatia, the Chair of UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in legislation and practice, sent a letter to the Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie as debate was beginning saying that criminalized abortion “exploits women’s bodies, denies their autonomy and endangers their lives and health”.

According to news reports, the letter stated

“We are writing to congratulate your Legislature for your consideration of a bill that decriminalizes the termination of pregnancy in the first fourteen weeks, and to urge you to approve that project. We welcome the important step that is being taken to guarantee women all their human rights.”

The working group also wrote that

“the criminalization of abortion and the lack of adequate access to services for the interruption of an unwanted pregnancy constitute discrimination based on sex, in contravention of Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Argentina on August 8, 1986 and Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, ratified by Argentina on July 15, 1985.”

The letter took direct aim at the influence of religious values and beliefs on law and policy charging that “in accordance with international human rights law, religious arguments are not allowable to prevent the adoption of bills because this would violate the human right to religious freedom”.

The letter also expressed support for self-induced abortion stating

“In addition, the prohibition of self-induced abortion causes even more harm to economically disadvantaged women, whose limited resources increase their chances of unwanted pregnancies, prevent them from accessing any method of safe abortion or seek treatment for complications that may ensue.”

The quotes from the letter are taken directly from news reports, the letter could not be found on the Working Group’s website. The Working Group is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, a process that increasingly gives special support and attention to pro-abortion issues. In March, the Working Group sent a letter to Poland protesting any new pro-life bills.

The Argentine Senate is expected to consider the bill in September.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri has encouraged legislative debate on abortion stating that while he was personally opposed to abortion he would not veto a bill legalizing abortion if presented to him.