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ARGENTINA | 27-10-2020 17:14

Fernández says government is 'finishing work' on bill to legalise abortion

Peronist leader says in an interview that his government is putting the final touches to a bill to legalise abortion and that it would soon be sent to Congress.

President Alberto Fernández buoyed the pro-choice movement on Tuesday by confirming he would deliver on his campaign promise to legalise abortion.

Fernandez told Radio Metro that his government is putting the final touches to a bill that would soon be sent to Congress.

"We're finishing work," said Fernández, speaking during a week in which campaigners took to the streets to demand the Peronist leader follow through with his campaign pledge.

"I don't want this theme to become another dispute among Argentines. We respect everyone, I don't want this to generate a new debate," he added.

Argentina is deeply divided over the question of abortion.

Following years of demonstrations, Congress began a historic debate in 2018 under then-president Mauricio Macri that ended with the lower house Chamber of Deputies voting to legalise abortion, only for the Senate to reject it.

Fernández promised back in March to present a new bill to legalise abortion but that was put on hold when the country went into lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"While all that was going on, abortions kept happening and many women were hurt or died during clandestine abortions," said the president.

He stressed that legalising abortion was "a commitment" he made during his presidential campaign, though he reminded those against reform that "no-one will be obliged to abort."

Abortion is legal in Argentina only in the case of rape or if the mother's life is in danger.

The government is "waiting for the right time to send the project," said Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero last week.

According to the Ministry of Health, each year around 39,000 women are hospitalised each year for complications after clandestine abortions.

– TIMES/AFP

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