Argentine legislators vote today on Bill for “legal, safe, and free abortion”

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A sustained campaign has been carried out by sections of the church to pressurise  legislators into rejecting the Bill

Today, on Wednesday, June 13, the Argentine House of Representatives will vote on a bill that decriminalizes abortion. Currently, abortion is only allowed when the mother’s life is in danger or when the pregnancy is a product of rape. This means that hundreds of thousands of women are forced to resort to clandestine abortions which have led to many deaths. The bill is supported by a wide cross-section of society, while the main opposition has come from the Catholic Church and its associated institutions.

Below, we present two interventions that sum up the key issues in the debate –  a statement from Social Movements of ALBA wherein they express their support for the bill, as well as the massive mobilizations carried out by thousands of women, transgender and non-binary people in Argentina; and an article analysing the tactics and desperation of the religious right-wing, which seeks to impede the passing of this bill.

Social Movements of ALBA supports the struggle in Argentina for “legal, safe and free abortion”.

Source: ALBA Movimientos / The Dawn News / June 11, 2018

From Social Movements of ALBA, we would like to tell Argentine women, lesbians, transvestites, Argentine trans feminists and the people’s movements and organizations who are on the streets mobilizing in support for the approval of the bill of voluntary termination of pregnancy encouraged by National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion that:

As militants and activists of a feminist continental platform who believe that the personal is political, it is fundamental for us to raise our voices in support to the demand for the right to legal abortion of Argentine women; a tireless struggle that has been built and organized for more than 30 years with the return to democracy.

We are in favor of decriminalization and legalization of abortion. We believe that access to voluntary termination of pregnancy must be guaranteed by the State so that women have the full right to health and autonomy over their own bodies.

As Social Movements of ALBA, we are protagonists of the daily struggle against patriarchy and capitalism. We understand that the illegality of abortion brings terrible consequences for all women and people with the ability to procreate who want to discontinue a pregnancy, and also acknowledge that the consequences are even more adverse for poor women.

Educación Sexual Integral para decidir (Comprehensive sex education in order to decide)

Anticonceptivos para no abortar (Contraceptive to avoid abortion)

Aborto legal para no morir (Legal abortion in order not to die)

#AbortoLegalYa (#LegalAbortionNow)

The battle for the decriminalization of abortion

By Miguel Jorquera / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / June 11, 2018

The church is strongly pressurizing the legislators who have not yet decided [their position on the Bill].

From personal calls from archbishops to anonymous death threats – everything seems valid as long as it alters the will of the legislators who have expressed support or are undecided.

Amid a close fight, the debate over the voluntary termination of pregnancy entered the final stretch with no clarity on the likely result. Meanwhile, the Catholic church has intensified its pressure on nearly a dozen undecided legislators.

The opposition campaign has used tactics like pressure on social media and sermons with warnings to the legislators in an attempt to sway them. The latest tactic involves “personal calls from archbishops and bishops to alter the will of the legislators who expressed themselves in favor of the initiative, which in some cases they managed to break”. They also condemned and listed to Página/12 (a local newspaper) the legislators who support the decriminalization of abortion.

The campaign by the church against the Bill started openly in the Tedeum for the May Revolution, a celebration which thanks God for the creation of the Argentine state, in the Metropolitan Cathedral, advanced with “Escraches” in Tucumán and spread more discreetly to the provinces of Salta, Santiago del Estero, Catamarca and Entre Ríos.

“A great deal of pressure is being exerted on the legislators who are willing to pass this law. We know that historically, thanks to those who suffered similar pressures but managed to resist them, we were able to establish many important rights such as the universal, secret and obligatory vote, female suffrage, the consolidation of the democratic system, divorce links, shared parental custody, and, in more recent times, equal marriage and the Gender Identity Act” says a statement that does not carry signatures or proper names, to avoid the pressure on advocates of the Bill.

The debate on the decriminalization of abortion began with legislators divided into three sections – those in support of the initiative, those who spoke against it and the undecided. The two months of debate in the plenary of the committees of General Legislation, Penal Legislation and Family of the Lower House, where more than 700 spoke, and massive marches took place for legalization and small marches against it, began to define another panorama, in a historical debate that goes across all political representations.

The 70 legislators who supported the Bill began to win over some of the undecided. The legislators, who opposed the bill and believed that the initiative would not be successful in the Lower House, redoubled their efforts.

Polls indicated that the result would be very close, with those against the Bill having a slight advantage – ranging from 8 to 10 votes. At the same time, nearly 30 legislators were reportedly undecided.

Then, the campaign against the law reinforced the pressure. Several legislators showed their peers the threats they received on social networks and on their own cell phones which were aimed at pressuring them to speak out against the decriminalization of abortion although they preferred not to do so. Several of them began opting for abstention in the vote and several may be absent from voting on Wednesday.

Those who were earlier undecided but subsequently took a stance have also chosen to not talk about it in order to avoid the pressure.

Senior members played a key role in the campaign. “The defense of the innocent who is not born must be firm, clear and passionate because there the dignity is at stake,” said the cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, in front of President Mauricio Macri, senior government officials and the presidents of both the Houses of Congress during the Tedeum celebration.

The archbishop of Tucumán, Carlos Sanchez, also joined in. “I, Carlos Alberto, would like to call you by your names, Beatriz Avila, Teresita Villavicencio, Gladys Medina, Alicia Sorarire, José Fernando Orellana, Facundo Garreton, Pablo Yedlin, Marcelo Santillán y José Cano, legislators of Tucumán, to tell you all that you have a name, because you have a life and you have a responsibility entrusted to by your people: vote for life, vote for care and defense of the life of all Argentine because it is worth all the life” he said, in the provincial Tedeum celebration, targeting the legislators of Tucumán.

Changes to the original text of the bill during the parliamentary debate and dialogue with civil society have led to more support for it. To ensure that women have an accompaniment and listening space – prior to and after the realization of the voluntary termination of pregnancy – the counseling system was incorporated. In agreement with the provisions of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the inclusion of content on comprehensive sex education on all education levels was reinforced. The bill also creates a pre-registration of conscientious objectors among professionals (“to guarantee the exercise of freedom without imposing beliefs or dogmas”), but establishes the obligation of health centers to arbitrate all means to ensure the practice.

These changes helped address many of the concerns of legislators who were not in favour of the Bill.

Meanwhile, the opposition kept resorting to more extreme measures. Garreton (Cambiemos) a deputy of Tucuman, received death threats when the number of his personal cell phone began circulating among the so-called “pro-life” groups in the province. Daniel Lipovetzky (PRO), who chairs the plenary session of the commission that discusses the bill in the Lower House, acknowledged and regretted the “pressure” of religious groups and anti-abortionists on “undecided” legislators. “Yes, there is a lot of pressure, especially on the inside,” he said in a radio interview.

In order to avoid public scandals, members of the church launched a pressure campaign on a dozen undecided legislators, with each of them receiving personal calls. Archbishops and bishops are in charge of calling legislators to vote against the bill.

Macri supporter Emilio Monzó is in charge of the Presidency of the Chamber of Legislators, and has conducted polls to gauge the support for the legalization of abortion. The numbers –according to these data– show a “great support” in urban centers across the country and throughout Patagonia. The level of support decreases further away from large cities and the greatest resistance is concentrated in the northern provinces of the country.

actrices por NUM por aborto clandestino

Ni una Menos por Aborto Clandestino.Aborto Legal Ya, porque este 13J, va a ser LEY.@Actrices.Argentinas

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