BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina’s landslide abortion laws have come into force since Sunday under the watchful eye of women’s groups and government officials, who hope to ensure its full implementation despite opposition from some conservatives and church groups .
Argentina became the largest country in Latin America to legalize its abortion in the Senate. On December 30, a law was passed guaranteeing the procedure until the 14th week of pregnancy and thereafter in cases of rape or when a woman’s health was threatened.
The vote was distinguished as a victory for the South American country’s feminist movement that may pave the way for similar actions in the socially conservative, heavily Roman Catholic region.
But last-minute appeals were issued before Pope Francis voted and church leaders criticized the decision. Proponents of the law say they expect lawsuits from anti-abortion groups in Argentina’s conservative provinces and some private health clinics may refuse to perform the procedure.
“Another huge task lies ahead of us,” said Argentine Minister for Women, Gender and Diversity, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, who acknowledged that full implementation of the law across the country would be hampered.
Gomez Alcorta said that “a telephone line will be established for those who cannot perform abortions for communication.”
Argentina’s Catholic Church has reprimanded the law and conservative doctors and groups of lawyers have urged resistance. Doctors and health professionals can claim conscientious objections to abortions, but cannot take rights if a pregnant woman’s life or health is in danger.
A statement signed by the Catholic Doctors Consortium, the Catholic Lawyers Corporation, and other groups called on doctors and lawyers to “protest with nobility, perseverance and courage that legalized the hate crime of abortion.”
The anti-abortion group Unite Provida also urged doctors, nurses and technicians to fight for their “freedom of conscience” and “promise to accompany them in all the tests that are necessary.”
Under the law, private health centers do not have doctors ready to perform abortions, which demand women to undergo abortions in clinics. Any public officer or health officer who performs an abortion unjustly will be sentenced to imprisonment ranging from three months to one year.
National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, an umbrella group for organizations fighting for legal abortion, often wearing green scarves in protests, vowing to “continue to monitor compliance with the law” the chasm.
“We rely on the feminist network we have built for decades,” said Laura Salomi, one of the movement’s members.
The previous abortion bill was voted by Argentine lawmakers in 2018 by a narrow margin. But in a December vote it was fueled by the so-called “Piba” revolution, supported by the center-left government, by Argentine slang for “girls”, and public opinion polls showing opposition had softened.
Supporters of the law expect backlash in Argentina’s conservative provinces. In the northern province of Salta, a federal judge this week rejected a measure called by a former legislator to suspend the law because the legislative branch had exceeded its powers. Opponents of the abortion treaty signed by Argentina pledging to protect lives from abortion cited abortion.
Gomez Alcorta said that the criminal charges currently pending against more than 1,500 women and doctors should be quashed. He said the number of women and doctors detained was “not that”, but did not provide a number.
“The Ministry of Women is going to advance its leadership” to end these matters.
In 2012, 32-year-old Tamra Grinberg had an abortion, saying that from now on “a girl can go to the hospital and say I want to have an abortion.”
She said that when she had an abortion, very few people helped her. “There are many more support networks today … and the decision has been respected. When I did that, nobody respected my decision.”
While abortion is already permitted in some other parts of Latin America – such as in Uruguay, Cuba and Mexico City – its legalization in Argentina is expected to be reprinted throughout the region, where dangerous covert procedures followed a woman’s right Has remained the norm for half a century. Guaranteed to choose in the US
AP journalists Viktor Cavano and Yesika Brumack contributed to this report.