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ARGENTINA | 27-09-2020 22:06

Activists renew call for abortion reform in Argentina

Activists from Amnesty International stage unusual protest outside National Congress building, as part of a publicity campaign renewing their demand for free, legal and safe abortion in Argentina.

Activists from the local branch of Amnesty International laid herbs and plants outside the front of the National Congress building on Sunday, as part of a publicity campaign renewing their demand for free, legal and safe abortion in Argentina.

Demonstrators lay the bouquets of parsley and other plants used in illegal clandestine procedures at the gates of the legislative building as they marked International Safe Abortion Day (otherwise known as the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion).

"We placed hundreds of bouquets armed with parsley and other abortifacient herbs so that the decriminalisation and legalisation project is debated and approved in order to change this reality," Amnesty International Argentina said in a statement left on one of the doors to the Congress building.

According to data collated by the NGO, about 450,000 clandestine abortions are performed each year in Argentina. Though many use a drug known as misoprostol, plant and herb alternatives are often used by women with little financial resources, putting their health at risk.

More than 1,000 public figures, including a host of writers and artists, also added their voice to calls for legislation to be put forward, in a full-page advert published in at least three national newspapers.

Earlier this year, it looked as if Argentina’s politicians were on the verge of re-opening debate on the potential legalisation of abortion in the country, two years after a bill to do so was rejected by the Senate after clearing the lower house. President Alberto Fernández vowed in a March 1 speech to Congress that he would submit a bill to guarantee the voluntary, legal and safe interruption of pregnancy to all women, indicating it was a priority for his government.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has put those plans on hold, much to the annoyance of activists. The ruling Frente de Todos coalition is keen to ensure that the bill is debated in person, rather than via remote videoconference sessions, as is practice at present given the health restrictions in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

In an online hashtag led campaign, pro-abortion activists swamped social networks on Sunday to renew the call for legalisation of the procedure once again.

The purpose is  "to make visible the situation of extreme precariousness that women and pregnant people experience in the face of the criminalisation of abortion in our country and the lack of guarantees for universal access to a quality service provided by health professionals,” said Amnesty in a statement.

Abortion in Argentina is currently only allowed in the event of rape or if the foetus bears a danger to the life or health of the pregnanct woman.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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