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Argentina Could Become Largest Latin American Country to Legalize Abortion

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 97% of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, the Guttmacher Institute estimates.

Thousands of women hold green scarves demanding the the decriminalization of abortion, in Argentina, in Buenos Aires on February 19, 2020. | Getty Images
Thousands of women hold green scarves demanding the the decriminalization of abortion, in Argentina, in Buenos Aires on February 19, 2020. | Getty Images

Argentinian president Alberto Fernández said Sunday that he plans to send a legal abortion bill to Congress, which would make Argentina the largest Latin American country to legalize the procedure. 

Fernández, who was sworn in as president in December, said he’ll deliver the bill within 10 days. More than 97% of women live in countries with restrictive abortion laws in the Caribbean and Latin America, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Fernández has also reportedly promised to develop the country’s sex education programming.

Activists in Argentina have long pushed for reproductive rights and worked to spread their message and movement to other nations across the region (often recognizable by “panuelos verdes” or “green handkerchiefs”). 

Ahead of a previous bill to legalize abortion in 2018 – which was defeated in the Senate – at least a million Argentines marched for reproductive justice in what has become known as the largest pro-choice protest in the world. Argentines have blamed previous failed attempts to pass legal abortion on influence from the Catholic Church and conservative presidents. 

Only a few Latin American countries – including Guyana, Cuba, and Uruguay – have legalized abortion during the first weeks of pregancy. At least 5 countries in the region – El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Haiti, and Nicaragua – have total abortion bans without exceptions for rape, incest, or when a mother’s life is at risk. 

Still, women find ways to access the procedure: hundreds of thousands of abortions are estimated to occur in Argentina alone each year. NowThis traveled to Buenos Airesand met with an Argentine woman who spoke about having two abortions and the danger and health risks she faced to go through with it.