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Alberto Fernandez prepared to reignite abortion debate despite warnings from the Catholic Church

Tuesday, November 26th 2019 - 09:56 UTC
Full article 5 comments
“I am an activist for an end to the criminalization of abortion,” Fernandez, 60, said in an interview, adding that he would send a bill to Congress “I am an activist for an end to the criminalization of abortion,” Fernandez, 60, said in an interview, adding that he would send a bill to Congress

The inauguration of Argentina's president-elect Alberto Fernandez next month has reignited a debate over the legalization of abortion, a year after conservatives narrowly blocked its decriminalization, leaving the country bitterly divided over the issue.

Fernandez pledged last week he would move to legalize abortion as soon as the new government takes over on Dec 10.

“I am an activist for an end to the criminalization of abortion,” Fernandez, 60, said in an interview, adding that he would send a bill to Congress.

However, he did not say whether he would seek to decriminalize abortion or legalize it as demanded by feminist movements.

Fernandez already appears to have nailed his colors firmly to the mast on the issue. He recently attended the launch of We are Belen, a book telling the story of a young woman who ran afoul of Argentina's strict anti-abortion laws.

After suffering a miscarriage, Belen was jailed for 29 months for an abortion, before eventually being acquitted by a court.

In a foreword for the book, Canadian author Margaret Atwood said Argentina “provided some of the real-life practices that I included in The Handmaid's Tale, especially the theft of babies perpetrated during the military dictatorship.”

“How many other Belens are there in the world? How many women have died because they were afraid of going to a hospital because of an abortion, spontaneous or provoked, terrified of the possibility of being accused of murder?”

At the book launch in Buenos Aires, Fernandez posed for pictures with pro-abortion activists and their emblematic green scarves, a clear gesture of support.

Last year, a bill to decriminalize abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy was narrowly adopted by the Chamber of Deputies but defeated in the Senate, under strong pressure from the still-powerful Catholic Church.

Argentina novelist and activist Claudia Pineiro, said “abortion is back at the center of debate because Alberto Fernandez is disposed to legalizing it.”

In Pope Francis's homeland, abortion is punishable by up to four years in prison, and allowable only in cases of rape or if there is a risk to the life of the mother.

Fernandez taking a position has irked conservatives, like the Archbishop of La Plata, Victor Manuel Fernandez.

“If I could talk to Alberto, I would ask him if it's worth starting his mandate off with an issue that has been so divisive for Argentines,” the archbishop wrote in an open letter.

Fernandez's abortion plan is “unfortunate,” said Ruben Proietti, head of the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Argentina, ACIERA.

Proietti last year helped mobilize half a million people onto the streets to counter the feminist pro-abortion lobby as both sides held rival mass protests. The pro-abortion activists wore green scarves to symbolize their cause, and the anti-abortion groups wore baby blue.

Proietti promised to bring “even more than before” onto the streets if Fernandez follows through on his plan.

Feminist groups, which have grown in power in Argentina over the past year, say they will not give up the fight.

“The strategy is to continue to put pressure, to continue the campaign,” said Martha Rosenberg, a leader of the pro-abortion movement in Argentina.

“We have work to do,” she said.

According to NGOs, between 370,000 and 520,000 clandestine abortions are performed every year, more than 1,200 a day.


Categories: Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • Forgetit87

    I don't know enough of Argentina to comment whether this is wise or not. As someone who's pro-choice, I hope this rightful step also be politically wise. However, we're back in those times where the Latin American right (with support from the army and the churches) is just looking for excuses to topple democratically elected left-wing governments as pure reaction against progressive policies. Dilma didn't back down on investigating military abuses during the dictatorship, and look how that went.

    Nov 27th, 2019 - 02:47 am 0
  • Pipino

    Killing unborn babies is not “progressive”.
    Cardinal Winning's Pro-Life Initiative is the sort of help needed -
    “Whatever worries or cares you may have, we will help you. If you need pregnancy testing or counseling, we will help you.
    If you want help to cope with raising the baby on your own, we will help you. If you want to discuss adoption of your unborn child, we will help you.
    If you need financial assistance, or help with equipment for your baby and feel financial pressures will force you to have an abortion, we will help you.
    This invitation, I repeat, is open to all. Irrespective of age, creed or colour.”

    Nov 27th, 2019 - 10:39 am 0
  • golfcronie

    And who is going to pay for this? All very well with the rhetoric but someone has to pay.

    Nov 27th, 2019 - 01:12 pm 0
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