Argentina closes 2020 with historic Senate vote legalizing abortion

“Surviving an abortion is a class privilege.” Vigil in Buenos Aires during Congressional discussion on abortion in 2018. Image by Juan Diez at Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

In the early morning hours of December 30, after more than a 13-hour session, and after an intense month of contrary opinions, “dirty campaigns,” protests and vigils in the streets, the Argentine Senate made history when it passed the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Act. This Act legalizes the right to abortion, without restrictions or grounds, up to 14 weeks of gestation. It was passed with 38 votes in favor, 29 votes against, and one abstention.

With the passing of the bill, Argentina became the fifth country in Latin America to legalize abortion—after Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay—and became the seventh on the entire American continent.

Since the beginning of his term that started in December 2019, President Alberto Fernández had promised to present the issue in the first days of March, but everything was suspended due to the emergency measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Following the pressure of feminist organizations from across the country, he finally sent the bill to Congress on November 16. The approval process was initiated on December 1 which culminated in the historic voting on December 30.

The first time they debated the proposed bill was in 2018. That time around, approval was obtained from the Chamber of Deputies but was later rejected by the Senate with a difference of seven votes. Despite the setback, the activism continued as the issue remained on the table and the campaign sought public approval for the bill; this served to strengthen the momentum of the “Green Tide” and support networks for those who needed access to safe abortion.

News reports about the passage of the Act are making headlines in national and international media. Jubilant celebrations filled the streets. On social media, there was also an abundance of expressions of joy. This was the message from Amnesty International Argentina:

All of a sudden it was all emotion
A victory for the women's movement  #EsLey (It's Law) #AbortoLegal2020 (LegalAbortion2020)

These are some of the reactions from different corners of Argentina:

Greetings from outside Argentina

There were also celebrations and congratulations on Twitter from abroad. These are some of the messages from Spain:

On behalf of the Chilean Feminist group HARTAS, they greeted Argentines with:

The collective “No Te Calles” sent its congratulations from Mexico:

From Bolivia, Artemisa says:

The news was also celebrated in Venezuela, and this is how one person responded:

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