Critical opportunity to legalize abortion
In June 2018, the lower chamber of the Argentinian Congress supported a bill to completely decriminalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of the pregnancy. It was a historic victory for the growing movement in Argentina to legalise abortion, commonly referred to as the Marea Verde (Green Wave), and one which came after two months of public demonstrations as well as public and participatory hearings before the deputies (members of parliament).
The bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate, the upper chamber of the Argentinian Congress, despite unprecedented numbers of activists demonstrating in the streets in support of the bill and a huge campaign of international solidarity. Amnesty International mobilised members, pressuring governments officials and other influential individuals across the world to speak out in favour of the bill and even buying a full page ad on the back page of the New York Times calling on Senators to vote in favour of the bill.
Many United Nations human rights mechanisms have urged Argentina to protect sexual and reproductive rights including the decriminalization of abortion in order to guarantee the life, health, dignity, privacy, and life without violence of women and other individuals with the ability to become pregnant. More recently, the United Nations Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice issued a statement congratulating the Argentine legislature for introducing and debating the issue. The letter upholds the significance and urgency of expanding women’s reproductive rights and explicitly calls for the approval of this bill.
After the 2019 elections, Argentina has a new Congress, which means that a bill to legalise abortion can be tabled and voted on again according to procedure rules. President Alberto Fernandez has already made public his support of legalising abortion in Argentina and has committed to present a bill to Congress this year. It would be the first time in Latin American history that a President introduces a bill supporting the decriminalization and legalization of abortion. However, this process has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is now concern that the bill may not be tabled. If it is not tabled this year, the bill will probably not be introduced because of the unfavourable political context, as next year is an election year for the Congress. Consequently, we aim to pressure the President to fulfil his commitment and ensure that the bill is presented to Congress in 2020.