Argentina’s Congress legalised abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy with a ground-breaking decision in a country having stringent reproductive laws.
With the move, Argentina becomes first country in Latin America to legalise abortion. However there exists some form of abortion provision in Uruguay and Mexico.
Prior to the passing of the bill, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the woman’s health was at serious risk.
Activists have been campaigning for years, calling for an overturning of this law that has been in existence since 1921.
The bill calls for greater autonomy for women over their own bodies and control of their reproductive rights, and also provides better healthcare for pregnant women and young mothers.
Prior to this, girls and women were forced to turn to illegal and unsafe procedures because abortion was against the law in Argentina.
For girls and women from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the scope of access to safe medical procedures for abortion was even narrower. Unsafe abortion was the leading cause of maternal mortality in the country.
The Catholic Church and the evangelical community wield immense power and influence in Argentina and had strongly opposed the passing of this bill.
Impact of the development
Activists are hopeful that the passage of this law will have an impact in other countries in Latin America. At present, abortions are illegal in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.
In Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and in some parts of Mexico, women can request for an abortion, but only in specific cases, and each country has its own laws on the number of weeks of pregnancy within which the abortion is legal.
The countries also have varying degrees of punishment and penalties meted out to girls and women, including jail.