President Alberto Fernández will present a bill to legalise abortion in Argentina this month, with debate on the proposal due to take place during extraordinary sessions of Congress.
The news was confirmed by Legal & Technical Secretary Vilma Ibarra, a key promoter of the bill.
"It is official, the president is going to send the bill in 2020, in November, and it will be incorporated into the agenda of extraordinary [sessions]," Ibarra told the C5N news channel in an interview, indicating that Congress would continue working into its traditional recess.
"The details of the bill will be announced by the president and its text will be known when it is sent to Congress,” she said. “There are no surprises in the abortion project, it collects basic consensus on the subject.”
Ibarra, a close ally of the president, said the bill would be accompanied by another that would provide assistance to pregnant women in vulnerable situations for “the first 1,000 days” of a child’s life. She said this would ensure procedures were not decided on for economic reasons.
"We do not want any woman to think about abortion because of her inability to financially care for the baby she wants to have," Ibarra told El Uncover radio.
The confirmation arrives as campaigning on the issue of abortion steps up. In recent weeks, activists from the Campaña por el Aborto Legal, Seguro y Gratuito (“Campaign for the Legal, Safe and Free Abortion”) group have been pushing the government to deliver on its campaign promise. They have submitted their own bill to Congress, which will also be discussed.
President Fernández "made a commitment in the electoral campaign and ratified it before the Legislative Assembly on March 1," Ibarra argued.
She justified the delay by saying that Argentina is "going through a very complex year,” citing the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
News that Fernández will push for the legalisation of abortion in Argentina has raised hopes in the green pro-reform camp that this year could finally be the culmination of years of campaigning. In 2018, the lower house Chamber of Deputies approved a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, which was subsequently rejected by the Senate.
"The bill gathers consensus and has to do with a political decision to take charge of this enormous public health problem," said Ibarra.
"We expect a serious, responsible debate [in Congress],” she said. “We have a very serious problem with clandestine abortions. They are happening every day of every year."