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Green vs blue: the abortion debate divides Argentina

BUENOS AIRES (AP) – A day after Argentine President Alberto Fernández presented the bill to legalize abortion, activists for and against simultaneously demonstrated in front of Congress on Wednesday in a display of the social tensions caused by the initiative and that make the result of the vote uncertain.

The avenue on which the main access to the Legislative Power is located was the scene of the bidding between green and blue, the colors that identify the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, a group of different women’s organizations , and on the other to the groups of Catholics who defend the life of the unborn child.

President Alberto Fernández announced on Tuesday in a message recorded and broadcast on Twitter that he had sent a bill to Congress to legalize the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Argentina, where, according to the president, about 38,000 women are hospitalized each year for miscarriages. .

The project establishes that women and other people with gender identities with the capacity to carry a child have the right to decide and access the interruption of their pregnancy until week 14. Outside this period, the pregnant person has the right to access the voluntary interruption of pregnancy only if it were the result of rape or if the life or integral health of the pregnant woman was in danger, as provided for in current legislation.

“Legal abortion 2020. It is urgent,” warned an extensive green flag with white letters held by young women who used green scarves as face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

In a smaller number, the “celestial” raised banners of alleged bloodied fetuses victims of abortion and written in black letters the phrase: “Aborted babies, they had no rights.”

A man in a coat of the Argentine national team and a light blue scarf on his left wrist was holding a wooden cross with a bloody plastic fetus.

Between one group and the other, several police officers were posted to avoid disturbances.

Argentina, the native country of Pope Francis, penalizes women and those who help them have an abortion. The only exceptions contemplated by law are in case of rape or risk to the mother’s health.

The decriminalization of abortion had its greatest advance in 2018 when it obtained a historic half-sanction in the Chamber of Deputies, but did not prosper in the Senate after a parliamentary debate that lasted weeks, taking to the extreme the pressure exerted on legislators by the feminist movement and religious groups, especially Catholics and evangelists.

Although Parliament was renewed, the parity between green and light blue legislators remains. If, as happened in 2018, the parties give freedom of action to the congressmen, everything seems to indicate that the legalization of abortion will be approved by the Deputies during the period of extraordinary sessions. Instead, the outcome of the Senate vote is uncertain.

As it is a project of the Executive Power, it is to be expected that the vice president and head of that body, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will be the one who will carry out the negotiations to approve the law. The problem is that several pro-government senators, such as the block chief José Mayans himself, demonstrated against abortion.

“The existence of the criminal threat has not only been inefficient, demonstrating that the social evolution takes place beyond the same norm. It has also condemned many women, generally of limited resources, to resort to abortive practices in the most absolute secrecy, putting their health and sometimes their very life at risk, ”said President Fernández among the arguments to promote the legalization of abortion.

One of the novel points of the project is the recognition of the right of conscientious objection of health professionals, but it imposes the obligation to refer the patient “in a temporary and timely manner, without delay.”

The doctor may not refuse to perform the abortion when the life or health of the pregnant person is in danger and immediate and urgent medical attention is required. If the doctor does not comply with these obligations, he will be punished with imprisonment from three months to one year and special disqualification for twice the time of the sentence.

Canada, United States, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, England, Austria, Ireland, China, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, as well as Mexico City, the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the Antilles and French Guiana are some of the countries with legal abortion.