Argentine feminist groups begin fresh struggle for legal abortion

The National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion will present – for the eighth time – a fresh draft of the bill for the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy (IVE) before the House of Representatives

May 28, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Pañuelazo outside Argentine congress. Photo: Vero Ape, Marcha Noticias

On May 28, the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion will present – for the eighth time – a fresh draft of the bill for the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy (IVE) before the House of Representatives of the Argentine National Congress. The day is also the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. With the presentation of the bill, feminist and social movements seek to reopen the debate on the legalization of abortion in Argentina.

Thousands of women, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and queer people will be mobilizing today in Argentina in support of the bill. A pañuelazo or a march with green handkerchief, which represents the feminist struggle for legal abortion, will be held in more than 100 cities in Argentina and internationally. The mobilizations have also received the support of a number of renowned social activists and female actors like Penelope Cruz.

In Buenos Aires, apart from the pañuelazo, many different artistic activities will be carried out in the Congressional Plaza. A press conference with the representatives of the movement after the presentation of the bill will be broadcast live on the internet and on the screens installed outside the plaza.

Last year in June, after 22 hours of debate, the bill was approved by the House of Representatives with 129 legislators supporting it and 125 opposing it. However, in August, the Senate rejected the bill by a margin of 38-31, denying hundreds of thousands the right to legal, safe and free abortion.

The new bill has been modified taking into account the last year’s parliamentary debate around it, as well as the discussions that took place with women and women’s movements in different regions of the country.

The newly presented bill decriminalizes and legalizes voluntary abortion within the first 14 weeks of gestation and beyond that period, if the life or health of the woman is at risk and in cases of rape. A new chapter in the bill reinforces the obligation to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools and the creation of consultancies where women can find information and support on contraceptive methods. The clause that allowed abortion in case of the fetus having genetic malformations and in case of risk to life due to extra-uterine pregnancy, which was questioned the most last year, has been eliminated.

The practice has been included in the Compulsory Medical Plan, so that it is guaranteed by both public as well as private hospitals and must be done within five days of being requested. It also established that in case the right to an abortion is not guaranteed or if it is delayed, the health professional will be penalized.

Changes have been made in the wording used in the bill. For example, the word “pregnant person” has been replaced by “any woman or other identity capable of gestating”, thus expanding the range of rights so that any person, irrespective of gender identity can access a safe abortion. Similarly, the multicultural and multinational character that the movement adopted in its practice has been introduced. It guarantees a translator or an interpreter to the person who does not speak the same language and wants to access the procedure.

The date of presentation of the eighth draft coincided with the 12th anniversary of the first presentation of IVE bill in the congress in 2007. The return of the bill demonstrates the undefeatable determination of the feminists across the globe to continue fighting for the historical claim and integral right to abortion.

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