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Argentina debates the legalization of abortion

Last Tuesday the Argentine Chamber of Deputies began to deal with the bill on voluntary termination of pregnancy sent by the president, Alberto Fernández, amid a climate of strong expectations on the part of feminists who hope that it will now be approved; resistance of the conservative sectors that oppose the project, and with the uncertainty of whether it will obtain the necessary votes during its passage through the Senate.

The General Legislation, Health, Women and Diversity and Criminal Legislation commissions began the debates, with presentations by the Legal and Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Vilma Ibarra, and the Ministers of Health, Ginés González García, and of Women, Genders and Diversity, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta.

During his speech, Ibarra pointed out that the decriminalization of abortion is about "fulfilling an electoral promise from the President , who said it during the campaign and at the beginning of ordinary sessions."

"The President collects with this a historic struggle of thousands of women who preceded us," she said.

According to various estimates, and as it happened two years ago, it is expected that the legalization will be approved by a majority of 129 votes or more in the Chamber of Deputies, but the scenario is more complicated in the Senate, where until now 33 votes in favor, 35 against and one abstention are anticipated, so the position adopted by three legislators who are still undecided will be decisive.

Unlike the 2018 debate, which lasted five months and in which in both chambers there were more than a thousand exhibitors for and against, this time the parliamentary treatment will be shorter. In the Chamber of Deputies, only 50 health professionals, scientists, jurists and religious ethics specialists will be heard, and they will be divided equally between those who support and reject legalization.

These are the main points:
  1. Legalizes the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy of women until the 14th week of gestation.
  2. This period may only be longer if the pregnancy endangers the life or integral health of the mother, or if it is the result of rape. For this, the mother must sign an affidavit, a requirement that will not be necessary if it is a girl under 13 years of age.
  3. Every woman has the right to access the interruption of their pregnancy in the public and private services of the health system within a maximum period of 10 calendar days from their request, with a guarantee of dignified treatment, privacy, confidentiality, autonomy, quality and access to information.
  4. In the cases of minors under 13 years of age, the abortion will be carried out with their informed consent with the assistance of at least one of their parents or legal representative.
  5. If the woman is between 13 and 16 years old, it is presumed that they have sufficient aptitude and maturity to decide on the practice and give due consent, unless a procedure that implies a serious risk to their health or their lifetime. In such cases, it will be necessary, in addition to your consent, that of at least one of your legal representatives.
  6. People over 16 years of age have full capacity and right to decide the voluntary interruption of their pregnancy.
  7. The health professional who must intervene directly in the interruption of the pregnancy has the right to exercise conscientious objection, but then he or she will have to refer the patient to be treated without delay.
  8. Health personnel may not refuse to terminate the pregnancy in the event that the person's life or health is in danger and requires immediate and urgent attention. And you cannot plead conscientious objection to refuse to provide post-abortion health care. Professionals who fail to comply will be subject to disciplinary, administrative, criminal and civil sanctions, as appropriate.
  9. Public officials, authorities, professionals and health personnel who unjustifiably delay, obstruct or deny the right to voluntary interruption of pregnancy may be plausible with criminal sanctions of three months to one year and special disqualification for twice the time of the sentence.
  10. Article 88 of the Penal Code will be amended to establish a penalty of three months to one year in prison for anyone who interrupts their pregnancy after the 14th week of gestation, unless it is the product of rape or if life is at risk or the integral health of the pregnant person.
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