Pro-lifers in Argentina make final push against abortion bill

People demonstrate against the decriminalization of abortion in front of the Cathedral of Tucuman in northern Argentina Credit WALTER MONTEROS AFP Getty Images People demonstrate against the legalization of abortion in front of the Cathedral of Tucuman, in northern Argentina. | Walter Monteros/AFP/Getty Images.

As legislators in Argentina prepare to vote tomorrow on a bill that would legalize first-trimester abortions, pro-life groups have been working adamantly to oppose the legislation.  

Argentina's House of Representatives will vote June 13 on a bill to allow legal abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. The vote is expected to be close.

If the bill passes in the House, it will be sent to the Senate, and then to President Mauricio Macri, who has encouraged "responsible" debate over the topic and said that he personally opposes the legislation but will not veto it if Congress approves it.

The current law in Argentina prohibits abortion, except when the mother's life or health is determined to be in danger, or in cases of rape.

On June 5, some 417,000 signatures were presented to Congress in support of the right to life of the unborn. More signatures are being collected, to be delivered on June 12 by children and young people with disabilities. Pro-life groups have emphasized that babies with disabilities will be at risk for abortion if the legislation passes.

Tens of thousands of people turned out June 10 for pro-life marches in the country's main cities. A previous march held May 20 drew an estimated 3,600,000 participants in 270 cities.

Unidad Provida, (Pro-Life Unity), an Argentine NGO that serves as an umbrella group for some 100 pro-life organizations, has launched a Twitter campaign for the day of the vote with two hashtags, #Salvemoslas2Vidas (Save Both Lives) and #NoAlAbortoEnArgentina (No to Abortion in Argentina).

"We need the support of our Latin American brothers and sisters in this crucial time for our country…We don't want this throwaway politics. We believe abortion is never the solution and we are standing up for 'Let's Save Both Lives,'" Pro-Life Unity said in a press release.

Other pro-life efforts include the Jericho for Life prayer campaign, which will surround the capitol starting at 5:00 p.m. local time June 12, pray the rosary and conclude with a consecration of Argentina to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, led by clergy.

That effort will be followed by a prayer vigil entitled "40 Days for Life Argentina Prays for Both Lives." The vigil will run from 6:00 p.m. June 12 to 8:00 a.m. June 13, in front of the nation's capitol building.

Opposition came in even from Iraq, where Argentine missionary Fr. Luis Montes posted an open letter to members of Congress on Facebook, in which he compared abortion to ISIS atrocities, saying that in both cases, victims are "dehumanized."

Previous efforts to oppose the abortion bill included a day of prayer and fasting called by the Argentine Conference of Bishops on June 7. The bishops also called for a prayer campaign from May 13 to June 3 which was supported by the Argentine Conference of Men and Women Religious.

A column published May 30 in La Nación daily and signed by more than 1,000 doctors argued against the legalization of abortion.

"Far from resolving problems," the doctors wrote, "abortion is a failure for medicine."

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