Abortion: crime or public health problem?

Abortion: crime or public health problem?

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Will Argentina join the current not to criminalize the termination of pregnancy? Supporters and opponents of the decriminalization of abortion defend their arguments in Parliament.

    
Argentinien, Buenos Aires: Demonstration zur Legalisierung von Abtreibung (picture-alliance / J. Ferrario)

Massive demonstrations both for and against the decriminalization of abortion that have flanked the debate on the matter that began on April 10 in the Argentine Parliament, with the participation of numerous figures from the health, academic, political, religious and other sectors of the society. President Mauricio Macri opened the doors to the discussion and left the freedom of conscience to the members of his party to pronounce on the matter, even though he, personally, declares himself contrary to abortion.

The interruption of the free pregnancy in the first 14 weeks of gestation is what the project of the Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion proposes. It is not the only one on the table, but it is the axis around which the debate revolves, with a view to presenting a project to the Legislative.

Historical debate

“What is historic at the present time is that, although the project was presented seven times during the last 10 years of the campaign, it is the first time that it has been debated in Congress. option of public hearings, but this process will lead to the Chamber of Deputies on June 13, for the first time in the last 35 years, of room for debate and define whether it is approved or not, “says Paola García Rey, Director of Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Amnesty International Argentina.

Argentine legislation considers abortion as a crime, but it contemplates two causes for which it is not punishable: when it puts the health or life of the woman at risk, or when the woman has been the victim of a violation. “In all other cases the criminal threat weighs on women and that is what we want to remove now,” he explains.

Criminalization of abortion

Susana Chávez, executive secretary of the Latin American Consortium Against Unsafe Abortion (Clacai), highlights the effort directed to Argentina to join the current not to criminalize abortion. “In many countries we have a great difficulty, which is to try to regulate abortion from the Criminal Code, it is basically approached from a crime perspective, and not as a public health problem and as an issue that affects the development and autonomy of women, “he says, in his opinion, the establishment of restrictive causes for the interruption of pregnancies is arbitrary interpretations.” An example in Peru: “We have the case of an 11-year-old girl who has been a victim of rape, who presents anemia, which lives two hours from the nearest hospital and is in very very difficult conditions;

In Peru and Argentina there are laws that allow abortion since 1921. “But only in this decade have we achieved that countries have regulatory frameworks,” underlines Susana Chavez, while Paola García Rey maintains that the indications model always failed. “Paradoxically, Argentina has legislation that is perhaps more advanced than other countries where abortion is absolutely prohibited, such as El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua. But the reality of women in Argentina, despite having a more benevolent legislative framework, is very similar to that of the contexts in which it is absolutely prohibited, because women continued to face many barriers, “he says.

Ethical objections

One of the arguments usually put forward by opponents of the decriminalization of abortion is that it could lead to a greater number of interruptions of pregnancies, and it would be used as a method of contraception. The Amnesty International specialist refutes: “Statistics have shown that abortion does not increase after legalization processes – it tends to remain stable – but it does have concrete impacts on maternal mortality.” Canada is an example: after 30 years of exercise of the right to abortion, today maternal mortality due to unsafe abortions is zero, and Uruguay is clearly approaching those figures. “

The Catholic Church and civil organizations opposed to abortion also raise other ethical arguments in the debate of Parliament. The coordinator of the “March for Life” told the press that “science has proven to be tired that life begins from the first moment of conception” and that living is the “first right of a human being”.

The debate is complex and involves various political and ethical aspects. But those in favor of legislating show certain optimism, like the executive secretary of Clacai. “Argentina is a country that fills us with enormous hopes, I believe that there is a substantial advance in the defense of women,” she says, highlighting the impact of the “Ni una menos” campaign, which has called attention to violence against women. women: “I believe that forced pregnancy in women is another expression of violence, especially in women who are victims of rape.”  

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