By Devin Watkins
In a victory for pro-life advocates in Argentina, the country’s Senate rejected a bill on Thursday to legalize voluntary abortion into the 14th week of pregnancy.
Hours of heated debate and impassioned pleas ended with a 38 to 31 vote against the measure. The bill had narrowly passed the lower house in July.
Senators from Argentina’s northern regions led the charge against legalizing voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it.
Ahead of the Senate vote, President Mauricio Macri said he was personally against abortion, but added that the debate itself was “a win for democracy”.
Current Argentine law only permits abortions if the mother’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape.
Catholic pro-life advocacy
Pro-life advocates from the country’s Catholic Church likely helped swing the vote in favor of life.
On the day of the vote, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli celebrated Mass to pray for the vote’s positive outcome. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires appealed to Senators not to interrupt “the honorable and praiseworthy tradition of legislating for the common good and for a culture of life, protecting the weakest and most defenseless, who are waiting to participate in history.”
At the same time, Cardinal Poli called on Catholics to find space in their communities to allow pregnant women in difficulty “to share their fears and to feel the embrace and tenderness of women who had the joy of giving birth to a child, despite all difficulties.”
Helping pregnant women in difficulty
Following Thursday’s vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing difficult, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.
Local priests in the poorest parts of the Buenos Aires region have created a network of “Houses of the Maternal Embrace”. These centers provide food, medical assistance, psychological counseling, and legal advice to pregnant mothers in difficulty.
One pro-life activist, Victoria Osuna, told Reuters the Senate’s vote against abortion “showed that Argentina is still a country that represents family values.”