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Argentina almost legalized abortion, but Senate lawmakers rejected the bill

James Clarke

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Argentina’s Senate Thursday morning rejected a measure to legalize abortion up to 14 weeks. The final vote, 38 to 31 with two abstentions, deals a heavy blow to a grassroots movement that has long tried to legalize abortion.

About 60 percent of residents supported the measure to legalize abortion countrywide, according to Argentina’s Amnesty International director Mariela Belski. “All that this decision does is perpetuate the circle of violence which women, girls and others who can become pregnant are forced into.”

While it’s currently illegal to get abortions in Argentina, 500,000 abortions are performed annually in the country, according to the National Ministry of Health. People who have abortions can be jailed up to four years.

The vote itself was historic, as ThinkProgress’ Casey Quinlan explained:

This vote is particularly important in the larger context of reproductive rights in Latin America, where six countries have a complete ban on abortion and most countries only allow people to get abortions with exceptions such as fatal fetal abnormalities, rape, and risk to their health. Research shows that more than 97 percent of women of reproductive age in Latin America and the Caribbean are located in countries where abortion laws are restrictive and 10 percent of all maternal deaths in these regions in 2014 happened due to unsafe abortions. Residents in Ireland, a deeply Catholic country like Argentina, voted to legalize abortion ban in May. The Irish Family Planning Association tweeted, “The experience in Ireland shows that once there’s momentum for change, it becomes unstoppable: sooner rather than later.”

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