By Vatican News staff writer
Despite Argentina's Congress approving a historic bill to legalize abortion, the nation’s Catholic Church has vowed to continue its commitment in the service of every human life, including the life of the unborn.
Care and service of life
"The Church in Argentina wants to reaffirm, together with brothers and sisters of different faiths and also with many non-believers, that it will continue working with firmness and passion in the care and service of life,” said a press release by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina (CEA) issued soon after the 30 December vote. “The law that has been passed will further deepen the divisions in our country,” the bishops pointed out. They expressed deep regret that the leadership ignored the feelings of the people who have expressed themselves in various ways in favour of life.
The crucial vote
After a marathon session, the Senate of the largely Catholic country approved the abortion law with 38 votes in favour, 29 against, and one abstention. The bill had been approved earlier on 11 December by the Chamber of Deputies.
Previously, abortion was only allowed if the woman had been raped or her life was in danger. Argentina thus becomes one of the very few countries in Latin America where abortion is permitted up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
It was Argentina’s massive "green wave" women's movement that has been the driving force behind the call for the abortion law, overturning the previous law that had been in place since 1921.
The bishops of Argentina have always condemned "the incomprehensible urgency, the feverish obsession with introducing abortion in Argentina as if it had something to do with the sufferings, fears, and concerns of most Argentinians". Despite the new law, they pledged to "continue working on the authentic priorities” that deserve urgent attention. These issues include an alarming number of children living in poverty, many of whom are dropping out of school; and the urgent pandemic of hunger and unemployment affecting many families.
The bishops concluded saying they embrace every Argentinian, including the MPs and senators who courageously stand up for life. “If we always protect it, without giving up, this will allow us to build a just nation in the future, where no one is discarded and where a true culture of encounter can be experienced," they wrote.
Support for family
In a separate statement, the Commission for Life, Laity and Family of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina called 30 December “a sad day for Argentina.” “We make our own the pain, the discontent and the sadness of the news of the passing of a law that authorizes a mother to kill her child.”
“Despite what happened,” the Commission said, “life always triumphs over death. This is what Christ taught us, who overcame death on the cross. All is not lost. Nothing is lost.”
It, therefore, called on the different sectors of Argentinian society to join forces and work for a family that “educates, includes, feeds, comforts, corrects, accepts and loves unconditionally.” It also invited them to continue accompanying the woman who is expecting an unwanted baby, with a hug and support.