- Title: ARGENTINA: Abortion debate heats up
- Date: 2nd November 2011
- Summary: BABY WITH SIGN OVER MOUTH READING: DON'T KILL ME
- Embargoed: 17th November 2011 12:00
- Location: Argentina, Argentina
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Health,People
- Reuters ID: LVA9A7AVK1X2NDAA1JBVCNN9IRNG
- Story Text: Pro-lifers and pro-choice activists protested outside Congress in Buenos Aires on Tuesday (November 01) as committee of representatives debated a new law that would legalise abortion.
Abortion is currently illegal in Argentina, but the representatives voted to send through the bill that would allow women to legally abort up to 12 weeks into their pregnancy. The bill will must now go through the Health and Wellness Department before moving to Congress.
Outside the Congress, pro-lifers and pro-choice advocates staged large protests. One woman pushed a baby carriage past abortion rights supporters with a sign reading 'all babies have the right to live'.
The animosity outside Congress foreshadowed what many expect to be a heated debate on the floor, much like the weeks of arguing that finally led to Argentina becoming the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage last year.
Pro-lifer Veronica Buschetti spoke fervently against abortion.
"We don't agree on anything. Why? Because no one says anything about what happens after an abortion. We believe there needs to legislation and work not on an abortion law, but on putting funds into helping women who have been abused in raped and because of that innocent children are born, or putting funds into helping malformed babies or babies with different capacities. (We should be) working on other kinds of laws, not ones that eliminate the right to live," she said.
The bill was passed through the committee of representatives by a vote of seven to 12.
Representative Cecilia Merchan is one of the leaders of the bill. She attributed its early success to a groundswell of support.
"Since 1983 people have been trying to get them to argue this in the house of representatives, but because of the taboo and hypocrisy around these issues it never made it. I think today shows the huge advances made by the collective efforts of 350 social organisations that have gathered to push for legal, safe and free abortion, the 16 universities going along with them, and the 50 representatives from different parties with the intent and will power to push this toward Congress," Merchan said.
Literature published by the coalition to legalise abortion says there are between 400,000 to 600,000 illegal abortions annually in Argentina which lead to some 400 to 500 deaths a year.
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