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  May 2019  
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Argentine Senate Rejects Draft Abortion Law

Pope Francis’ native country on August 9, 2018, voted definitively against abortion. The 38 votes opposed against the 31 votes in favor, in the Argentine Senate, put a stop to the legalization of abortion up to the 14th week of gestation. The Senate’s session lasted 16 hours and ended around 3:00 am.

The Chamber of Deputies approved this draft law last June 13, after a legislative debate that lasted 20 hours, with 131 votes in favor and 123 against.

Therefore, voluntary interruption of pregnancy remains a crime in the country, punishable by four years in prison, reported “Vatican News” in Spanish. The existing law dates back to 1921; it allows abortion only in case of rape or risk to the mother’s life.

The Argentine President authorized, for the first time, the parliamentary debate on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy; however, “Cambiemos [“Let us change”], the Coalition he heads, cast the most votes against, to reject the initiative.

Pastoral Challenges

 The Senate is a much more conservative Chamber, where the interests of the provinces of the interior of the country are represented, the Vatican media recalls. Over the last few weeks, the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church called for days of prayer and fasting, manifestations and celebrations, through the social networks, to impede the approval of the abortion law in Argentina’s Upper Chamber.

The Bishops point out that they face “great pastoral challenges,” to proclaim with greater clarity the value of life: responsible sexual education, accompaniment in maternal homes that have arisen, especially in our poorer neighbourhoods, to support pregnant women in vulnerable situations and care for persons who have gone through the tragedy of abortion.

On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Executive Commission of the Argentine Episcopal Conference issued a press release in the wake of the Senate’s vote on the draft abortion law.

Renewed Exercise of Dialogue

 “As Argentine society it is now up to us to assume and work with the new divisions that have arisen among us, stemming from this draft law, through a renewed exercise of dialogue,” they exhort in the document.

The Prelates thank the Senate and organizations and institutions that spoke out in defense of life. “We thank especially the testimony of the poor, who always teach us to receive life as it comes and to be able to take care of it because it’s a gift of God,” they said.

The ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue has grown during this time, joining efforts to protect life from conception until natural death. “Now it’s about prolonging these months of debate and proposals in the concretion of the social commitment necessary to be close to all vulnerable life,” they conclude.