Women in Argentina renew demand to legalise abortion

Buenos Aires: Women rallied in the streets of Argentina on Wednesday to renew their demand for legalizing abortion. The political ground has witnessed significant change since 2018 when advocates narrowly lost a vote in the Senate which could have turned Argentina into the largest jurisdiction in South America region to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks.

Abortion is banned in Argentina, and while it is legal in the case of rape or risk to the woman’s life, doctors often refuse to perform the procedure.

Pope Francis – who remains deeply involved in the politics of his home country – has made no secret of his opposition to the bill. In 2018, the Clarín daily newspaper reported that Pope has asked anti-abortion legislators to pressure fellow lawmakers to reject the bill.

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“It feels different than in 2018,” said Maite Linares, a teacher who brought her five-year-old daughter Juana to a rally on Wednesday hosted by the feminist movement outside the Argentine Congress in Buenos Aires.

“It feels like the possibility exists that this will happen,” she told Al Jazeera. “The movement is bigger, stronger and more voices have joined our cause.”

“The state can’t keep deciding over our bodies,” Linares told Al Jazeera, holding Juana’s hand. “Because women have the right to decide, and to think of our bodies as a territory – a territory of struggle, emancipation and empowerment.”

Human rights activists argue that the regions’ near-total bans on abortion only push women to seek unsafe clandestine terminations, a major cause of maternal mortality.

Salta, an impoverished northern province, has Argentina’s highest rate of women younger than 25 hospitalised due to complications from clandestine abortions: every year about 3,000 women end up in hospital and 17 die from unsafe terminations.

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