Argentina
Argentine president announces law to decriminalize abortion
Days after meeting with the Pope, Alberto Fernández declared that he will send a law to Congress after the failed attempt in 2017.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández said he will send Congress "a law that ends the criminalization of abortion" and warned that this is "an issue that we must resolve from a public health perspective," as he answered questions from students at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, where he gave a keynote speech as part of his tour of Europe.

"In Argentina abortion is a crime. It is a strange crime in which almost never a woman is condemned for abortion, but we know it exists," said the head of state.

He also pointed out that "the problem is that in Argentina all abortions are clandestine". In this sense, he said that "the problem is more acute if the social class is lower. If the woman is poor, her life is in danger".

Fernández also said that the woman who terminates the pregnancy "if she is of a higher social class, she will surely be in adequate aseptic conditions and her health will be guaranteed," but he warned that "if we are in the presence of a woman without resources, her life will be at risk".

Alberto Fernandez with pope Francis at the Vatican.

The president said that "there are those who feel that if we legalize, it is obligatory" and then clarified: "It is not obligatory for anyone, it is an issue that we must resolve from the public health perspective, because we cannot put the life of the woman who decides to have an abortion at risk".

"I don't live in peace with my conscience knowing that a woman may need to have an abortion, she doesn't have the economic conditions to pay for it and she winds up in the hands of a quack doctor who ends up hurting her with a needle and sometimes killing her," she said.

In this context, the President announced: "I am going to send a law that ends the criminalization of abortion and allows the treatment of any abortion in public health centers," after which he was applauded by the audience and the people who followed the conference from a gallery on the upper floor.

On the other hand, he said that the "discussion of abortion is part of a hypocritical discussion" and compared the debate on legal termination of pregnancy with the one that took place in the country before the sanction of the binding divorce, in June 1987.

"I was little, my mom was divorced, I lived with Carlos, he was divorced. They could never get married. My mom was tormented. She said, 'I'm married via Mexico'. It wasn't good enough for Argentine law," she said.

The head of state recalled that the late former president "Alfonsín proposed legalizing divorce and allowing a second marriage. It was an unbearable debate" and he said: "My mother and Carlos got married and the three children witnessed the marriage". "And I wondered why we had to discuss it for twenty years," he concluded.

The Church's reaction

The leadership of the Catholic Church reacted quickly to Alberto Fernandez's announcement that he would send Congress a law to decriminalize abortion and called for a mass in rejection of the bill.

The Mass of the Argentine Episcopal Conference will be next Sunday, March 8th, on International Women's Day, which is also a challenge to the feminist groups that are pushing for decriminalization.

The motto of the celebration will be "Yes to women. Yes to life" and the bishops will ask "for the protection of human life from conception to natural death", as announced in a statement signed by Monsignor Oscar Ojea, Cardinal Mario Poli, and the Bishop of Mendoza, Marcelo Colombo.

All three are very close to Pope Francis, so the move obviously has the backing of the Church's highest authority.

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