February 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Argentina, which had some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world, is moving to legalize the medical procedure.

Under the new law, abortions will be permitted prior to the 14th week of pregnancy. The measure passed the country’s Chamber of Deputies earlier this year and won approval from the Senate on a 38-29 vote in December.

Previously, abortions had been permitted in the country only in cases of rape or when a woman’s life was in danger.

The vote marks the culmination of a long-running campaign by women’s-rights groups in the country. The New York Times reported that the effort to liberalize the country’s abortion laws began in earnest in the 1980s but gained little traction until more recent times. In 2008, a bill to legalize abortion failed after heavy lobbying by the Catholic Church, which wields considerable power in the country.

Abortion-rights advocates continued to introduce legislation. They came close in 2018 but fell short after Pope Francis, who is a native of the country, personally lobbied against the measure.

In 2019, Alberto Fernández, a leftist, was elected president and promised to advance women’s rights. Women also held street demonstrations, which are a popular form of organizing in Argentina.

“We managed to break the prejudice, and the discussion became a lot less dramatic,” Lucila Crexell, a senator, told The Times. “Society at large started to understand the debate in more moderate, less fanatic terms.”