Argentina house votes to legalise abortion

Originally published in Life Site News

Lawmakers in one chamber of Argentina’s legislature voted on Thursday to legalise abortion.

By a vote of 129 to 123, the chamber of deputies, the lower chamber of the country’s Congress, approved a bill to legalise abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, as well as late-term abortions in cases of fetal deformity or to protect mothers’ “psychological” health. The result brings the country one step closer to erasing its constitutional protection for preborn babies except in cases of rape or threats to a mother’s life.

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The vote was so close that a majority was prepared to reject it as late as three hours before it happened, until La Pampa province lawmaker Sergio Ziliotto announced a last-minute change of heart for himself and two colleagues.

Today’s vote sends the measure to the Argentinian Senate, where it is expected to fail, according to The Economist.

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri claims to be pro-life, but has said he will not veto the bill if it reaches his desk, in deference to the will of the legislature.

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The vote follows a contentious public debate both domestically and worldwide, with more than 3 million Argentinians marching to protest repeal and international “human rights” watchdogs shaming Argentina for protecting the rights of preborn humans. Polls have shown the public narrowly divided on the question in the run-up to the vote.

The legislature heard emotional testimony on both sides of the debate, including a man who could have been aborted and a woman who had a secret abortion in a doctor’s apartment kitchen in the 1990s.

“All my life I knew I was adopted: My last name is ‘Walter’ — German — and you’ll notice I’m not that German,” 43-year-old engineer Javier Walter testified, the Washington Times reports. “[My grandmother] told me, ‘I have to ask you for forgiveness … because I wanted for you not to be born.’ And the first thing I did [was] to hug her.”

Actress and singer Muriel Santa Ana, meanwhile, claimed the real choice was not whether abortions will happen, but between “secret abortion or legal abortion.”

Pro-abortion activists claim Argentina’s abortion laws fail to prevent half a million abortions a year, many of which lead to fatal complications and other life-altering harm to women. Therefore, they argue, banning abortion does nothing but make abortions happening anyway more dangerous.

Americans United for Life addressed these arguments in a 2012 report on the state of abortion in Latin America. Citing statistics from Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, it found that illegal abortions represent a small percentage of maternal deaths, 74 out of 306 in 2007.

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Further, the report quoted the World Health Organization as acknowledging that “hospital structure” was the “most important variable” to determining maternal deaths. “The availability of essential obstetric care, active emergencies and experts” must be addressed to save women’s lives, AUL concluded, rather than legalising abortion.

Regardless of whether the bill itself ultimately prevails, the vote serves as a marker of a shifting culture, with pro-abortion activists certain it’s just a matter of time before Argentina legalises abortion. If so, it would follow Ireland as another predominantly Catholic nation abandoning the faith’s traditional protection of human life.

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