Argentina's Senate has rejected a bill to legalise abortion for any reason in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, in a decision that could reverberate around South America. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis. Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours and voted 31 in favour to 38 against.
The Argentinian Senate debated the bill all day Wednesday and into the early hours of Thursday.
Argentina’s lower house of Congress already passed the measure in June, and President Mauricio Macri said he would sign it if approved by the Senate.
Argentina now allows abortion only in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health, and pro-abortion activists say 3000 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983.
The issue has bitterly divided Argentinians, pitting conservative doctors and the Church against feminist groups and other physicians.
During the debate, Senator Mario Fiad called abortion a “tragedy and said he opposed the legislation, arguing it is unconstitutional and violates international treaties.
“The right to life is about to become the weakest of rights,” said Senator Fiad.
Opposition Senator Pedro Guastavino said he was initially against the proposal but changed his mind after coming to understand that illegal abortions put lives at risk.
“The only way to understand this is through the point of view of public health,” he said.
While the Senate debated the bill, thousands of Catholics gathered in Buenos Aires Cathedral for a Mass for Life, celebrated by Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, the Catholic Herald reports.
In his sermon, Cardinal Poli said that abortion “will always be a tragedy” and is “far from being a solution”. He also called on senators to “safeguard the right to life of all, especially the weakest and most vulnerable”.
There were ugly scenes outside the National Congress after the vote as pro-abortion activists rioted and set fires, leading to several arrests.
In the end, Pope’s homeland rejects abortion law (Sydney Morning Herald)
Argentine Senate rejects abortion bill (Catholic Herald)
Argentina Senate rejects voluntary abortion law(Vatican News)