Argentina lawmakers propose legalizing elective abortion

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — More than 70 Argentine lawmakers of several political parties presented a bill Tuesday to legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Most lawmakers wore green handkerchiefs symbolizing the abortion rights movement as the measure was introduced to cheers.

Abortion is only allowed in Argentina in cases of rape and risks to a woman’s health. But advocates say that doctors and judges often continue to block therapeutic abortions despite a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to remove barriers and take judges out of such decisions.

Legislative efforts to allow elective abortions have failed in the past, but the new initiative has wider backing.

Argentina’s conservative President Mauricio Macri also recently said that even though he is anti-abortion, Congress should launch a debate on broader legalization of abortion.

Several countries in Latin America allow therapeutic abortions, although El Salvador and Nicaragua ban the procedure under all circumstances.

Argentina’s health ministry estimates that up to 522,000 Argentine women undergo illegal abortions each year. Pro-abortion rights activists estimate that about 49,000 women, most of them poor, are hospitalized each year for complications linked to unsafe abortions.

As the law was introduced, abortion-rights proponents chanted, “Contraceptives to avoid aborting and legal abortion to avoid death!”

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