Argentina lawmakers unveil bipartisan bill to legalize elective abortion

Argentina lawmakers unveil bipartisan bill to legalize elective abortion

A bipartisan group of Argentine lawmakers proposed legislation [text, PDF, in Spanish] on Tuesday allowing women, in their “exercise of the human right to health,” to voluntarily “interrupt” their pregnancy during the first 14 weeks.

Titled “Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy,” the bill sets out the woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy in the first 14 weeks in the first article, and then later adds that a woman can terminate the pregnancy beyond the 14-week period if: 1) “the pregnancy was the product of a violation;” 2) there is a risk to the physical, mental or social health or the life of the woman; or 3) there are serious fetal malfunctions. The law further states that “In all cases the Authorities of each Healthcare Facility shall guarantee the realization of the interruption of the pregnancy in the terms established in present law” and that no prior judicial authorization for the abortion procedure is necessary.

A woman’s informed written consent is required before an abortion may be carried out and in the case of a female between the ages of 13 and 16, the law provides for a presumption of “aptitude and sufficient maturity” to provide consent. For those females under the age of 13, the law requires the consent of at least one of the parents or a “legal representative.”

Pointing to the approximate 27 percent of maternal deaths arising due complications from clandestinely carried out abortions, proponent-legislators of the law included a note to the president entitled “Foundations” stating:

we defend the right to abortion as a cause just to recover the dignity of women and with them, that of all human beings. The [300 organizations, groups and personalities linked to the movement of women, human rights organizations, the academic and scientific field …] consider that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights and should be recognized as rights of all people. For this, it is necessary to guarantee universal access to public services that sustain them. … in matters of maternal mortality Argentina is today among the group of countries considered of medium and high maternal mortality. … the Ministry of Health [official website, in Spanish] of the Nation has argued that “The criminalization of abortion that prevails in many countries, far from reducing the incidence of the practice, prevents access to safe procedures, which creates risks to the life and health of the women.” … Argentina will be a more just and equitable country when those who want and can have children and daughters do it without problems; and [those] who in full enjoyment of their personal faculties wishing to interrupt the pregnancy do so in appropriate sanitary conditions, so that there are no more women who die in the attempt, plunged in the anguish of a pregnancy not planned or desired. Motherhood can not be an imposition, it must always be a choice of life, like many others and the State must ensure the full validity of same.

Despite being the product of bipartisan efforts, the bill is expected to face resistance [Reuters report] in the more conservative upper house.