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we pronounce it \ ă-lә-`tay-uh \
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Argentina: Chamber of Deputies approves bill to decriminalize abortion

ARGENTINA
Marko Vombergar-ALETEIA
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The bill legalizing abortion was approved in the lower house of the Congress; final approval is in the hands of the Senate.

After a marathon vote in a session lasting more than 20 hours, the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina approved a bill legalizing abortion in the country. The result was 129 votes in favor, 125 against, and one abstention. Now, the Chamber of Senators has the responsibility of rejecting it, approving it, or modifying it. The session could take place in upcoming weeks, if the request for an exception made by various sectors is approved, or in September.

Thousands of people on both sides of the issue expressed their opinions in the streets in front of the Congress. Among those asking that Argentine legislation continue supporting life in the mother’s womb, many had come from the interior of the country, and spent the night in the streets, keeping vigil, accompanied by residents of the capital, Buenos Aires.

The interior of the country had mobilized with great intensity in the previous days, and made its presence felt in the deputies’ votes, which reflected the fact that they couldn’t vote for anything but the rejection of abortion while representing the people they are supposed to represent.

On the other side of Two Congresses Square, separated by an immense fenced-off area, thousands of people who support the legalization of abortion also spent the night. The nearly equal numbers inside the Congress seemed to be reflected outside as well. The only space where the even division wasn’t noticeable as such was in the national media, where the great majority of journalists showed their support. The same was true in the entertainment industry.

These have been months of intense debate and participation. More than 700 citizens spoke out during public hearings organized by the legislative commissions that organized the draft of the bill. In the definitive version, the voice of half of those who spoke seemed to be totally ignored, since the main bill not only didn’t take a moderate position, but even took a more hard-line approach, and included secularist clauses, such as the stipulation that all hospitals, under the proposed law, must provide abortion services, even if it goes against their foundational principles and ideals.

Underlying many of the deputies’ arguments in favor of abortion were mentions of the separation of Church and State, and various considerations regarding secularism. Consequently, it is probable that this bill will be followed by other proposals even more marked by this tendency.

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