Argentine Senate Rejects Abortion Legalization Bill

Had the bill passed, Argentina's conservative president said he would sign it into law.


Maria Paulina Rodriguez/EFE/Newscom

The Argentine Senate rejected a measure Wednesday that would have legalized abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The law narrowly passed the lower house of Argentina's legislature in June. But in a 38-31 vote yesterday, the Senate opted to keep most abortions illegal.

In addition to legalizing the procedure within 14 weeks of conception, the bill would have allowed girls 13 years of age and older to get an abortion. Women who asked for an abortion would have had to wait no more than five days to get one.

Argentine women can still obtain legal abortions, but only in limited cases, like rape or if the health of the mother is in jeopardy. According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, at least 350,000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year. Women who get abortions illegally can face up to four years in prison, while the doctors who provide them can be incarcerated for up to six years.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, a conservative, said he would sign the measure into law if it passed in the Senate, even though he personally opposes abortion. Similarly, former President and current Sen. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose administration was against legalizing abortion, voted in favor of the bill.

Had the bill passed the Senate and been signed by Macri, Argentina would have become the most populous of a handful of Latin American nations—including Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and parts of Mexico—where abortion is legal. Brazil's Supreme Court, meanwhile, is currently considering the issue.

Legalizing abortion is a particularly contentious issue in the predominantly Catholic region, as the Catholic Church says life begins at conception. Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, has yet to publicly comment on the law that was rejected yesterday. In June, however, he likened abortions meant to prevent birth defects to the Nazi eugenics program.

Argentina and Brazil are not the only Catholic nations where abortion has been at the forefront of the national conversation in recent months. In May, Irish citizens overwhelmingly voted to legalize the procedure. The referendum received roughly two-thirds support.

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  1. Argentine women can still obtain legal abortions, but only in limited cases, like rape or if the health of the mother is in jeopardy.

    Once you allow killing a person because its father was a rapist, can you really continue to claim you believe it’s a person you’re killing?

    1. True. Although, once you allow abortion in the ninth month of pregnancy can you still claim it’s not infanticide?

      Advances in ultrasound technology is really going to be the greatest threat to abortion liberalization

    2. I’ve never heard an abortion rights supporter claim to believe that a fetus is a person. In fact, they claim to believe the opposite.

      1. OK, then, I’m an abortion rights supporter who believes a fetus to be a person. I think its personhood is irrelevant to the issue.

        1. For those of you who haven’t been thru this sequence w me, it’s a person who doesn’t object to being killed?who doesn’t mind dying. All value is subjective. In this case the value would be in the mind of the fetus. The fetus doesn’t understand death, therefore puts 0 valuation on hir life. It’s OK to kill them, provided nobody else owns them who objects.

          1. so you must be cool with infanticide since infants don’t understand death either

            1. Lemme ask you, if you’re no OK w infanticide, why not? What is it about killing something that should make it illegal? How do you distinguish between things that are OK to kill, & things that are not?

              1. Any human being that struggles for its life should not be deprived of that life by another person. Zygotes and embryos have no self awareness and feel no pain. They don’t struggle for existence.

          2. That argument doesn’t work. That means we could kill infants, people in a coma, or the severely mentally disabled. No, personhood is crucial to the issue. Personhood is a legal right that is homesteaded by the development of certain neural structures. Once someone homesteads personhood, they cannot lose it unless they lose those neural structures or die.

            1. Check out Walter Block over here

              1. Well, I agree with Walter Block about evictionism. But I disagree with him that evictionism applies from conception. It does not. It applies after the fetus becomes a person, which is, probably, sometime in the second trimester.

                1. Are you defining “personhood” based on viability? I generally agree on that category, but I don’t agree that evictionism is necessary for restrictions to be imposed at that point

                  1. I believe viability is a separate issue. Viability is a measure of our ability to keep a fetus alive outside the womb. Personhood is the realized capacility of the fetus to develop sentience, feel pain, form language, or whatever other criteria we choose. I don’t have an exact answer, because there is not an exact point at which neocortex functioning activates, and I don’t know what exact functionality we should be looking for. According to this, which I found with a cursory search:

                    The first brain cells do not appear in a human embryo until close to the third week after conception, and studies indicate that the thinking and sensing portions of the brain where awareness resides do not click on until after the 28th week. (All ages of embryos or fetuses in this article are days or weeks since conception, not gestational age.)

                    So it looks like viability even now has already surpassed that point.

            2. I’m OK w its being legal to kill your own infant, & also a child who’s been so severely mentally disabled as to never be able to grasp the concept of being alive vs. being dead. Same w most animals & plants.

              Why should killing someone be illegal? Same reason it should be illegal to deprive them of anything they value. All value is subjective, otherwise instead of liberty we should have a philosopher-king decide what’s good for each of us, & enforce that.

              Personhood? Neuronal structures? Do you men speciesism?

              1. It’s like the Michael Hinh version about abortion.

          3. No one owns another human individual.

            That is a bizarre formulation, a fetus will be distressed by pain stimuli at a certain stage of development. It assumes much, and as others have pointed out, cannot be constrained to simply pre birth children.

            1. As a fisherman that practices catch-and-release, I have done research into the question of whether fish feel pain. They certainly thrash around when you catch them, but are they writhing in pain? No, they are writhing in an escape reflex. See here. Fish do not feel pain the same way as mammals, because they do not have the neurological structures to experience conscious pain. Well, the same applies to a fetus before the fetus develops a neocortex.

            2. Pain is not death, death is not pain. Separate issues.

      2. Yes, but I don’t know that it’s the Argentine abortion rights supporters who are limiting the scope of legal abortion to those two specific instances.

        1. I suspect it was abortion-rights supporters getting away with what they could.

    3. These rape exceptions are sometimes thin-end-of-the-wedge tactics precisely intended to weaken the culture of life.

      They’re sold as extremely limited exceptions, etc., etc., until finally they think they have the votes for a broader legalization bill.

    4. It is a morally ambiguous subject, like the death penalty and euthanasia. It all comes down to whether something can be determined to be a necessary evil. Nobody will ever convince me that abortion is anything but the killing of an individual human being, but I do understand that it can often be a necessary evil, and can lead to some positive societal effects.

      Anybody trying to pass off abortion as nothing more than removing a tumor can go ahead and fuck the hell off, and do not believe in “science”. At least make the argument that, yes, it is the taking of a human life, but it is an unfortunate necessity on occasions.

    5. Corruption of Blood is a valid legal principle. There’s even something about it in the Constitution.

  2. Catholic Church says life begins at conception

    What a bunch of science-denying nonsense. Medical professionals unanimously agree that human life begins at birth. It’s just a clump of cells before then.

    1. Although, technology seems to contradict your dogma

    2. Sure, it’s just a clump of cells, a clump of cells that happens to be a genetically distinct(from it’s parents) organism of species homo sapiens.

    3. so when medical professionals induce labor they are playing God?

      1. If you want to look at it that way, any medical intervention is playing God.

        1. You are ignoring his premise, which is that the act of giving birth creates human life. Obviously there is a big difference between the significance of that and taking an aspirin to relieve a headache.

    4. But life began well before any human egg was fertilized by a sperm. It’s a continuous process that leads back to the early Earth. What they mean to say is that an individual organism with a discrete genome has formed. Actually, what I think the Catholic Church means is that an individual soul is created, which has nothing to do with science.

      1. Not only is there no scientific basis for a soul, there is also no philosophical basis for a soul. It is an illogical concept.

        1. Well, you could say that your self-aware consciousness plus your memories, etc. constitute your “soul.” That doesn’t mean that your soul is something that can exist outside your body, of course. Well, unless one day it can somehow be transferred to a machine or another body, but then it’s a facsimile so is it really the same? That’s one of those stoner thoughts, I guess.

      2. Individual soul, individual existence. They are asserting that something of moral value exists which has its own rights. The assertion that there are inherent human rights has nothing to do with science either, but rejecting their existence calls the whole of libertarian ideology into question.

        1. Yes, they claim that a because it’s a now a discrete organism with its own genome, it is therefore now a person deserving of the rights of personhood. Except that full personhood and the full list of rights that goes along with it is not really achieved until adulthood (see other thread), so some rights are dependent on age, awareness, and stage of development of the organism. Maybe if the stage of development is early enough, the organism has no rights at all.

          1. Except for the most part pro-aborts are not making such an argument. They are just screaming at anyone who makes the argument that the unborn have at least minimal rights is imposing “religion” on them so they don’t have to make a reasoned defense of their position.

    5. IMO, human life doesn’t begin until after potty-training. Learn to use the toilet dear – or else.

      1. I believe the same, except my line is when they get their first job and can pay for their own stuff.

    6. Would you like to quote some physicians who think that?

  3. Religious thought is a mental disorder

    1. I agree. It’s a perverse faith that looks at an ultrasound and says “don’t believe your lying eyes, that’s a clump of cells”.

      I think it’s cute how we pretend that only one side is governed by faith

    2. Best understood, your “religion” is the thing you have at the top of your priority list.

      For most, that’s “self”, for many, that’s “government”, and for a small minority, that’s their (traditionally understood) “god”.

      1. This is truth

  4. The purpose of government is claimed to be to punish (or stop) initiations of force. The worst initiation of force is presumably murder.

    If a government is incompetent to define “murder”, then they cannot punish (or stop) it. And if they cannot punish (or stop) murder, then why should government exist?

    I’ve never had anyone answer that question.

    1. Left Libertarians seem quite content to undermine the entire concept of human rights in order to get their unlimited abortion rights pony.

  5. “Argentine women can still obtain legal abortions, but only in limited cases, like rape or if the health of the mother is in jeopardy.” So abortion isn’t illegal. Elective abortions are illegal.

  6. kill the rapist. let the babies run wild and free.

  7. I don’t get these people.

    ‘Abortion legal . . . ”


    “Safe . . . ”

    Yeah, I’m with you here.


    What? In what possible world should I have to pay for your abortions? Here, here’s some money I’ll donate to the local free-clinic for the condoms they hand out – use those.

  8. Someone should have told them you could use it to keep Jews and Gypsies from having babies. The Argentinians would have eaten that up like bratwurst.

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