Argentina church urges politicians to think hard ahead of abortion vote

Proposed legislation divides South American nation with long-held Catholic roots

The Church of Argentina on Saturday called on the country’s politicians to vote with their conscience this coming week when the Senate will take up a Bill to legalise abortion.

The proposed law has divided a nation with long-held Roman Catholic roots.

During a religious celebration in a small city west of Buenos Aires, Bishop Oscar Ojea, president of the local bishops’ conference and an outspoken opponent of abortion, suggested a “No” vote was supported by “medical science and law”.

“Blessed Virgin, we ask you to pause your gaze on the legislators who will decide on a matter of such extreme delicacy,” said Bishop Ojea during a service, “so that you can provoke a serene reflection in their minds and in their hearts”.

On December 11th, Argentina’s lower house of congress approved the measure to allow abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy. The coming Senate vote is expected to be close, and controversial.

A similar Bill was defeated by Argentina’s Congress in 2018. Current law allows for abortion only when there is a serious risk to the mother’s health or in the event of rape.

Unregulated procedures

The country’s abortion rights movement, backed by feminist groups galvanised in recent years to stop violence against women, argues that legalising the practice would end unregulated abortions that government data has shown among the leading causes of maternal deaths.

Broad demonstrations are expected for and against the Bill when it is debated in the Senate on Tuesday.

On the same day, the Senate will also debate a side project to provide assistance to women who want to move forward with their pregnancy and need help facing economic hardship. – Reuters