Senators in Argentina have rejected an abortion bill becoming law after it was voted down by 38-31.
The bill would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, whereas currently it is only allowed in cases of rape or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Demonstrators outside Congress gathered on opposite sides of square in front of the building last night with those in favour of the bill wearing green handkerchiefs and those against wearing blue ones. This is similar to what happened when the Chamber of Deputies voted on the bill, although this time the demonstrators had to withstand the wind and rain.
In the debate, which lasted over 16 hours, a number of senators expressed views such as:
- Norma Durango, a senator for La Pampa, said she wasn’t in favour of abortion but was in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion for one reason: women abort in secret and as senators they should not allow this to happen anymore, or for one more women to die as the results of a clandestine abortion.
- Esteban Bullrich, a senator for Buenos Aires, said: “Abortion is a social failure and this bill legalises that failure”.
- José Ojeda, a senator for Tierra del Fuego, said: “What will happen if the law isn’t approved? The reality is that nothing will change as women will continue risking their lives.”
- Olga Inés Brizuela y Doria, a senator for La Rioja, said: “A human’s life starts at conception. The law says what it says. Saving both lives is a constitutional mandate.”
Some of the senator’s views provoked an outcry:
- Rodolfo Urtubey, a Senator for Salta, said that inter-family rape isn’t “classic” rape
- Cristina del Carmen López Valverde, a Senator for San Juan, said she did not have time to read the 14-pages of the bill but would vote against it anyway.
Those for the bill will have to wait next year which is when legislators can introduce a new bill to change the law.