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Argentina votes divided decriminalization of abortion

The Chamber of Deputies decides whether to legalise the termination of pregnancy until Week 14 and then pass to the Senate. Thousands of people in favor and against are mobilized in front of the Congress

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Argentina votes divided decriminalization of abortion

Abortion is illegal in Argentina except if mor's life is at risk or pregnancy is result of a rape. The legislation, which dates back to 1921, includes prison sentences of between one and four years for women who interrupt ir pregnancy. Members who have made public ir opposition to changing law have always been majority and are expected to impose mselves in vote, first thing on Thursday. But difference has narrowed in last few days. According to feminist economy count, on eve of vote 119 deputies were in favor of decriminalizing abortion, 120 against and 2 were going to abstain. At beginning of session, for first time computation had been reversed: 122 in favor, 118 against, 14 unconfirmed, 1 abstains and 2 absent. The numbers danced all day and at one o'clock in morning re were still seven undecided deputies, who will eventually tilt scales.

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The social and political divide reaches even political parties. Except left, with a unanimous stance in favor of abortion, or blocks are divided. In Change, conservative coalition led by Mauricio Macri, almost two-thirds oppose law. In Kirchner front for victory, 53 of its 59 legislators will vote in favor. Argentina's only socialist deputy, Luis Contigiani, gave up party, but not his bank, after waterfall of internal criticism he received by announcing that his vote will be negative.

One of those who had kept his vow hidden, José Ignacio de Mendiguren, broke silence before entering chamber. Your vote will be favorable to decriminalization. "I made decision in solitude. I traveled country and we must be aware of situation in country. The decision is already taken, no one takes it looking at Penal Code. And when y take it y're alone. An abortion costs 20,000 pesos and y do not have how to pay it, "said De Mendiguren, deputy of renewing front.

"We do not come to discuss depenalization, this project is a unrestricted legalization", criticised in Hemicycle deputy Officer Nicolás Massot, one of hardest against law. "It is a moral, legal and ideological dilemma; That's why you have to be careful and not fall into clichés of throwing us with deaths by head, "he added. "There is a revolution of daughters who came to stay. Let's move on to history by securing rights, not voting against women. We have to guarantee human right to public health, "he replied minutes later by legislator Kirchner Mayra Mendoza.

On left, protesters in favor of legalization of abortion. On right, opponents. Ap

Outside of Congress, mobilization for legal abortion won street. Tens of thousands of people, mostly young girls, began to reach surroundings of square past noon. "It is my body, I decide", "Remove your rosaries from our ovaries", "not one less for clandestine abortion," could be read in banners of young women, all with handkerchiefs or green makeup, color that identifies supporters of decriminalization. In a festive atmosphere, protesters danced to rhythm of bands summoned throughout day and with percussion groups that animated streets. The fences dividing square endured until seven in afternoon, when green tide broke through between m to occupy also central area, which was to remain empty because it was declared neutral territory. Many teenagers n went up to fences that separate opponents to law, waved in front of m handkerchiefs and sang until y were afónicas:

-Legal abortion, in hospital.

The celestial sector, color that identifies anti-abortionists, began to animate at dusk, but never became so massive. Fars and mors with ir children were mostly in a crowd where re were also parish groups, nuns and priests. "Yes to life, not abortion," chanted present, while waving Argentine flags and pink balloons. The containment fence was decorated with drawings made by children, in which y could see fetuses asking ir mor not to kill m and give m an opportunity and messages favorable to adoption as an alternative to termination of pregnancy. They organized prayer chains to ask that bill not be approved and performed live ultrasound in which it was possible to see and listen to heartbeat of fetus.

Protesters against legalization of abortion manifest in front of Congress. Efe

Since Argentina's return to democracy, in 1983, bill in favor of decriminalization of abortion was presented seven times in Congress, but had never managed to cross door. Under chairmanship of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina was first Latin American country to approve homosexual marriage, in 2010, and to have a gender identity law, in 2012. But Fernandez de Kirchner always closed in band with abortion. His successor, Mauricio Macri, also opposes. However, social pressure and need to divert attention from uncertain economic situation influenced presidential decision to allow debate.

Between April and May, more than 700 speakers in favor of and against legal abortion passed through Congress. Women who recounted ir experience of abortion, obstetricians, geneticists, scientists, psychologists, ministers, exministers, writers, filmmakers and celebrities exposed ir arguments in parliamentary committees. Each side applauded and viralized best interventions.

The novelist Claudia Piñeiro urged supporters of right to decide not to let mselves "steal word life" in an emotional speech that retuiteó thousands of times. The exhibition was also held by Minister of Health, Adolfo Rubinstein, who contributed figures for decline in maternal mortality in countries where voluntary interruption of pregnancy is legal. Among opponents, he moved testimony of Lorena Fernandez, a resident of a slum in center of Buenos Aires that recounted crudely abortion that was made with 16 years at request of his parents and said that for her "an abortion is to kill."

The parliamentary debate has broken taboo that existed in Argentina and dozens of women have confessed for first time that at some point in ir lives y refused to be mors or to have one more child. According to estimates quoted by Rubinstein, between 350,000 and 450,000 women abort each year in Argentina. In 2016, 47,000 pregnant women required hospital care for complications arising from interrupting a pregnancy and 43 died.

"Abortion is a public health issue, not religious beliefs," say advocates of law, urging members to avoid more deaths from clandestine abortions and "make history." "Abortion is not solution. Save both lives, "y replicate from front. Each block follows debate in Hemicycle with heart in suspense. The session can be over 18 hours and it is estimated that vote will arrive first thing on Thursday. Then it will be known if Argentina has taken first step to re-position itself at forefront of Latin America.

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