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'I've Had An Abortion': Lawmaker Fights To Reopen The Debate In Argentina

by . November 18, 2016

abortion protestersActivists campaign for legal abortion in Argentina. Photo credit: International Women's Health Coalition.

Yesterday, in front of the Health Commission, national lawmaker Araceli Ferreyra (Victory Front, FpV) revealed that she had undergone abortions in her youth. Her disclosure was met with rounds of applause.

Among other lawmakers, Ferreyra was defending the bill on ‘Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy’ (IVE) before the commission presided over by Carolina Gailard (Victory Front), and she took the opportunity to refer to her own personal experiences.

“I had the opportunity to have abortions in countries where it was legal … and I have had to have abortions in this country and it is extremely cruel,” she said.

She insisted that “those who pay the cost are the women who are still having to undergo abortions illegally.” The lawmaker went on to mention that personal friends have died from having abortions in these conditions.

Addressing her opponents, she asserted, “For those who disagree and have moral or religious challenges, no one is going to force you to have an abortion. But do not force us to think differently or condemn those within your own religion who have to make difficult decisions, because nobody wants to have an abortion.”

The Health Commission’s meeting lasted 4 hours. Photo via Página 12

In an interview with Página 12 in 2012, the lawmaker explained how she had had a friend in her teenage years who had become pregnant. Ferreyra admitted that she had advised the 17-year-old to carry through with the pregnancy but, when she had the child, the consequences were dire: she was fired from work, her family disowned her and she had to quit her studies to work as a domestic employee. From then, Ferreyra’s opinions started to change.

“When a woman makes the decision to have an abortion, it’s because she’s been through various situations,” explained Ferreyra yesterday. “Part of the hypocrisy is that those who oppose safe abortion practices are the same people who later oppose sex education campaigns.”

“No more hypocrisy, let’s leave behind our prejudices and move forward,” she demanded with conviction.

The bill, promoted by the Campaign for the Rights to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion, was debated yesterday in a crowded room in the Legislators’ Annex. Most of the arguments heard were in favor of decriminalizing abortion, and came from a broad political spectrum – FpV, PRO, Leftist Workers’ Front, UCR – as well as health professionals, lawyers and human rights organisations.

Macri’s lawmakers publicly pledged to resume the debate for the legalisation of voluntary termination of pregnancy when the new legislative year begins. Daniel Lipovetzky, who chairs the General Legislative Commission, announced the commitment.

Daniel Lipovetzky wore a green handkerchief in support of the campaign. Photo via Tiempo de San Juan

Lipovetzky asserted: “I am in favor of decriminalization. It is crucial that every woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. The best way to achieve consensus is to debate.”

While representatives from the campaign considered the commitment as an achievement, there is still some doubt as to whether this will really make a difference. Several lawmakers expressed their anger due to the lack of political will to take the issue seriously, during Kirchnerism’s time in power and now under the Macri administration.

Although most voices seemed to be in favor of the bill, abortion opponents have been gaining seats in the Lower House. Yesterday, Juliana Di Tullio lamented not having managed to debate the right to abortion while there was an FpV majority in Congress.

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