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Argentina schedules vote for abortion legalization amid pressure from World Bank, feminist groups

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BUENOS AIRES, June 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Argentinian Senate has set August 8 as the date for a critical vote on whether to legalize abortion nationwide.

The chamber of deputies, the lower chamber of the country’s Congress, narrowly voted earlier this month to legalize abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, as well as late-term abortions in cases of fetal deformity or to protect mothers’ “psychological” health. If successful, the legislation would erase Argentina’s constitutional protection for preborn babies except in cases of rape or threats to a mother’s life.

The date, decided on in a parliamentary meeting, comes sooner than anticipated, as the government faces intense pressure from both domestic and foreign influences.

“We demand action without delay in the Senate and that they [respect] the law to the letter by which it passed in the Lower House, and that a date for which the bill will be voted is agreed upon in the next parliamentary meeting,” the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion said in a statement.

The group organized 75 protests across the country Wednesday, adopting green scarves as symbols. Those gathering outside the capital brandished brooms labeled with the names of the cities they came from.

At issue is Vice President and President of the Senate Gabriela Michetti’s decision to send the legislation to four legislative commissions for review, two of which are headed by senators opposed to the bill. “Article 89 establishes that bills must be turned over to one Commission,” Sen. Fernanda Sagasti said.

The legislation is not expected to make it through the Senate, though Argentinian President Mauricio Macri has said he will not veto the bill if it reaches his desk (despite claiming to be pro-life), in deference to the will of the legislature. Should legalization win, it would be a sea change for the predominantly Catholic nation.

International groups pressuring Argentina to legalize abortion include Amnesty International and the World Bank. During March’s G20 summit in Argentina, the bank’s Margo Thomas reportedly pressured Macri to introduce the legislation. The World Bank, which actively promotes abortion and contraception, has given the financially-troubled Argentina millions of dollars in loans over the years.

Pro-abortion activists claim Argentina’s abortion laws fail to prevent half a million abortions a year, many of which lead to fatal complications and other life-altering harm to women. Therefore, they argue, banning abortion does nothing but make abortions happening anyway more dangerous.

Americans United for Life addressed these arguments in a 2012 report on the state of abortion in Latin America. Citing statistics from Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, it found that illegal abortions represent a small percentage of maternal deaths, 74 out of 306 in 2007.

Further, the report quoted the World Health Organization as acknowledging that “hospital structure” was the “most important variable” to determining maternal deaths. “The availability of essential obstetric care, active emergencies and experts” must be addressed to save women’s lives, AUL concluded, rather than legalizing abortion.

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