Argentina abortion vote: Senate rejects bill to legalise

The Upper House of the National Congress of Argentina has rejected a bill to legalise elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

After a long debate that lasted more than 15 hours on Thursday, the lawmakers voted 31 in favour to 38 against, despite the legal abortion bill had strong public support, according to the opinion polls.

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Earlier today, Argentina’s Senate tweeted the result which reads “With 31 votes in favour, 38 votes against and two abstentions the voluntary termination of pregnancy bill is rejected.”

According to currently in forced Argentina’s Law on Abortion, 1922 Penal Code, Articles 85-88, as amended in 1984 asserts:

Article 85: “He who causes an abortion will be punished: 1. with detention or prison for three to ten years if the operation was carried out without the consent of the woman. This punishment may be raised to fifteen years if the woman died as a result; 2. with detention or prison of one to four years, if the operation was carried out with the consent of the woman. The maximum punishment is six years if the woman died as a result.”

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Article 86: “The doctors, surgeons, midwives or pharmacists who abuse their science or profession to cause an abortion or cooperate to cause it will be punished as established in the previous article and will, additionally, be prohibited from exercising their profession for twice the time than that which they will serve. An abortion carried out by a medical doctor with the consent of the pregnant woman is not punishable: 1. if it was done with the objective to avoid a danger to the life or health of the mother and if this danger could not have been avoided by any other means; 2. if the pregnancy is the result of the rape or assault to the modesty committed against an idiot or demented woman. In this case, the consent of the legal representative is required for the abortion.”

Article 87: “He who causes an abortion with violence involuntarily will be punished with prison for six months to two years if the pregnant state of the patient was obvious or known to him.”

Article 88: “The woman who causes her own abortion or who consents to someone else causing it will be punished with one to four years of prison. The woman’s attempt [to abort] is not punishable.”

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The bill had been passed by the Congress’ lower house by a narrow margin in June.

Rejection of the bill means that abortion remains legal only in the case of rape and danger to the life of the woman.

In March, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the Argentine people urging them to prioritize the “defense of life and justice,” which many saw as a reminder of the church’s opposition to abortion. According to reports, more recently, at a meeting in Rome, the pope denounced abortion as the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program.

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Argentina’s Health Ministry said that there are at least 350,000 illegal abortions in Argentina every year, but international human rights groups claim the number is likely to be much higher.

Ahead of the vote, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco said that Argentina had a “historic opportunity” to protect the rights of women.


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