As the lower chamber of Argentina's Congress debated Wednesday the approval of a bill to legalize elective abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, the bills' supporters and detractors mobilized for and against the law.
Some undecided legislators are tipping the final balance in favor of legalizing abortion in the midst of a national campaign for women’s reproductive rights.
Previously undecided legislator Alejandro Garcia announced Wednesday morning that he would vote in favor of the law. Until now, Argentine legislation only allows for legal abortions in cases of rape and risk to the woman's life.
Other lawmakers have changed their mind due to the two-months-long debate in the legislative commission that preceded Wednesday’s debate.
“The debate has changed my original position, against legalizing abortion. I will vote in favor of the law. My convictions are mine, they guide my life. But my convictions are not the truth. The truth is what happens and my obligation as legislator is to work to transform it,” Jose Ignacio Mendiguren tweeted this morning.
As the legislators were debating the law, thousands of women across the country showed their support for the bill and demanded Congress guarantee their rights to choose.
Outside Congress, in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentines who oppose legalizing abortion were also present to pressure legislators to reject the bill.
International human rights organizations like Amnesty Internationa and Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have issued public statements in support of the bill, arguing that laws criminalizing abortion are discriminatory and place womens' lives in danger.
Preliminary vote counts tallied by the organization Feminist Economy show the bill has the support of 122 legislators while being rejected by 118. Thirteen legislators remain undecided and they will determine the results.
Martin Lousteau, representative of Buenos Aires, compared the criminalization of abortions to laws against LGBTQ people and ethnic minorities. "There is a law that criminalizes the actions of a collective," Lousteau said.
Nathalia Gonzalez of the Left Front criticized the church for endorsing the torture of pregnant women during its last military dictatorship. "Those are the people who defend life? How much hypocrisy?” Gonzalez also warned the church that even if the bill is defeated they “have lost the battle in the streets, in the classrooms, in the workplace.”
Other legislators have rejected the bill during the debate. Alma Sapag argued against the law saying it violates the unborn child’s right to be born and proposed instead a series of measures that would facilitate adoptions.
If the lower chamber approves the bill, it will then be debated by the senate.