By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

SANTA ROSA, Argentine, December 19, 2007 ( – Following a strong opposition campaign by the bishop of Santa Rosa, the newly installed governor of the province of La Pampa has vetoed legislation that would have legalized abortion in practically any circumstance up to the ninth month of gestation.

Newly-elected Governor Oscar Jorge, who was installed December 10th, issued the veto within a week. In the process he strongly denounced the measure’s “interpretations and applications that openly collide with the restrictive spirit” of Argentina’s penal legislation regarding abortion.

The veto of the bill is a major reversal for pro-abortion forces in the province, who spent years agitating for it, and whose victory seemed certain before the election of Jorge, who is seen as more pro-life than his predecessor, Carlos Verna. Verna openly favored the law. The Peronist Party to which the governor belongs is split on the issue. 

Jorge won election to his seat with 56% of the vote, twenty points higher than his opponent, and 17% more than the very popular Cristina Fernandez, who was recently elected president of Argentina.

The unexpected victory followed weeks of campaigning by the nation’s Catholics, led by Bishop Rinaldo Fidel Bredice of Santa Rosa, the capital of La Pampa. Bishop Fidel led a protest march in early December and received accolades from Argentine pro-lifers for his spirited fight against the legislation.

“Every human being has the right to life,” Fidel remarked before the march. “Before all else the authorities should arrange for its defense, which is the first of human rights. To approve abortion is an inhuman crime against innocents.”

Numerous local, national, and even foreign organizations and individuals joined with the bishop to denounce the legislation, including The Catholic Medical Consortium, the Association of Catholic Attorneys, Human Life International, Families of the World United for Peace (FAMPAZ), the Life and Family Forum. and the Center for Research into Problems of the Family.

Argentina’s laws prohibit all abortions, and the nation’s constitution states that “each person has the right to respect for his life from the moment of conception”.  However, under the Argentine penal code, some abortions are decriminalized, carrying no penalty. These include cases of rape, pregnancy of a mentally ill or retarded woman, or when the health of the mother is at stake.

Following a typical strategy pursued by pro-abortion forces in Latin America, the La Pampa legislators sought to create a “protocol for therapeutic abortion” based on an extremely loose interpretation of these exceptions, which would have widened the “health” exception to include virtually any condition, including social inconveniences and emotional concerns. Critics noted that this interpretation was in clear contradiction to the law’s historical interpretation.

See previous coverage:

Bishop Leads Protest March Against Legalization of Abortion in Argentina

Catholic Attorneys Ask for Veto of Abortion Law in Argentina