Photo via Noticias Argentinas / Mariano Sánchez

The four special committees in the Lower House that will debate the bill about the decriminalization and legalization of abortion will gather today in Congress, with the goal of establishing the guidelines for the process that is set to last between two and three months.

The four committees are the following: General Legislation, Public Health, Family Affairs, and Criminal Legislation. Each committee comprises 31 deputies from different parties, and at least 16 of them need to support it before it gets the green light.

For now, we don’t know whether it will also have to be approved by each committee separately – in which case, the fact that 16 deputies from Criminal Legislation are against it (according to Clarín) would practically doom the initiative – or if there will be a voting that includes all four together. This will also be defined today.

Should it be approved and be sent to the floor, the bill will then need to have the support of at least 129 deputies (more than half of the Lower House’s 257 members); if it makes it through, it will then need for at least 37 senators (more than half of its 72 members) to give it the green light. If this happens, then the bill will become a law. President Mauricio Macri has already said he will not veto it if it reaches his desk.

On March 6,with support from 71 deputies from across the political spectrum, a bill calling for the decriminalization and legalization of abortions in the first 14 weeks of gestation was formally introduced in the Lower House of Congress.

The bill, based on the model legislation favored by the National Campaign for Legal, Free, and Safe Abortions, sets out that the public and private health systems must incorporate abortions into the services that they offer. Furthermore, the language in the draft legislation sets out that abortions do not require prior judicial authorization and that they must take place in a period no greater than five days after it is requested.

Currently, abortions are considered illegal and subject to criminal prosecution except in the cases of a threat to the life of the woman, or in cases of pregnancy as a result of rape or sexual abuse of a woman with mental disability. The bill sets out that there is no time limit for abortions in the cases of rape, abuse, threat to the women’s health or physical integrity, or in the cases of severe fetal malformations.

The debate itself will either begin on April 3 or April 10.