Argentina is now the biggest country in South America to legalize abortion. It is the third country in the continent, after Guyana and Uruguay, to do so.
The Senate approved the bill with 39 votes against 29, and one person did not vote. With this historic decision, women will be able to end a pregnancy in the first 14 weeks.
A victory for the women’s right movement
Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez had promised to help achieve abortion rights. He declared in an interview that, since 1983, over 3000 women died as a result of unsafe abortion practices.
From now on, women will not have to face charges for abortion and they will receive appropriate health care. The president stated:
“Today we are a better society that expands rights to women and guarantees public health.”
It was a long and difficult way to success
Due to its strong religious roots, Latin America has long been against abortion rights. The Catholic church claims, in fact, that abortion can never be excused.
A success for abortion rights in the country of Pope Francis is particularly important. According to the supporters of the legalization campaign, this is a huge victory.
In 2018, a first attempt to pass a similar bill had failed. Today, activists in Buenos Aires are celebrating their triumph with fireworks and an explosion of joy.
A turbulent era of protests for women’s rights
For over five years, starting with the #NiUnaMenos (#NotOneLess) movement, women have been taking to the streets for their rights. They have been protesting against gender violence, discrimination, and in favor of freedom of choice.
Mariela Belski, from Amnesty International Argentina, shared her happiness with The Guardian. She said:
“Both the law passed by the Argentine congress today and the enormous effort of the women’s movement to achieve this are an inspiration to the Americas. Argentina has sent a strong message of hope to our entire continent: that we can change course against the criminalization of abortion and against clandestine abortions, which pose serious risks to the health and lives of millions of people.”
There is still work to do for women’s rights
Besides Argentina, in Latin America, only Guyana and Uruguay support women and their reproductive rights. Additionally, Cuba and some parts of Mexico allow legal abortions.
However, other countries such as the Dominican Republic and El Salvador still have extremely strict laws. In El Salvador, for example, an abortion could cost a woman up to 35 years in jail.
It looks like the road to walk is still long to reach full reproductive rights. The case of Argentina, though, shines a light of hope.