Home / General / Clashes in Argentina after plans to legalise abortion rejected

Clashes in Argentina after plans to legalise abortion rejected

Protesters have lit fires and thrown bottles at police after Argentina’s senate rejected a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Thousands of pro and anti-abortion protesters in rival colours gathered in heavy rain outside Congress in Buenos Aires as politicians debated the proposal for 15 hours.

Officers fired tear gas as some protesters reacted angrily to the result, setting up flaming barricades and throwing bottles at police in riot gear.

A woman hurls a bottle at police outside congress as protesters reacted angrily to the vote
Image:
Violence broke out outside the country’s congress
Police arrested some pro-life demonstrators as violence broke out
Image:
Police arrested some pro-life demonstrators as violence broke out

Meanwhile, at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral, a “mass for life” was held in support of keeping laws unchanged.

President Mauricio Macri, who is against abortion, had already said he would sign the bill after the country’s lower house chose to support it – but senators voted it down 38 to 31.

Abortion is illegal in the South American country except in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health.

Pro-choice activists held their green banners aloft as politicians voted
Image:
Pro-choice protesters held their green banners aloft as politicians voted

Many women, most of them poor, have dangerous and degrading abortions every year – and activists estimate 3,000 have died since 1983.

Some resort to using a clothes hanger wire or knitting needle to break the amniotic sac inside the womb, others take toxic mixtures or herbs that can prove fatal.

A model of foetus was carried by anti-abortion protesters
Image:
A model of foetus was carried by anti-abortion protesters
Anti-abortion activists celebrated the senate's decision
Image:
Anti-abortion activists celebrated the senate’s decision

Supporters of the bill argued it would save lives, and the run-up to the vote sparked months of passionate debate and protest in the Catholic country.

Hundreds of doctors who opposed the bill had laid their white medical coats outside the presidential palace, while the pro-choice movement – in their signature green – held larger demonstrations and drew support from the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood and actress Susan Sarandon.

Amnesty International had told Argentinian politicians that “the world is watching”, and Human Rights Watch said the country had a “historic opportunity” to protect women’s rights.

But the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: “It’s not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason. Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the state.”

The Pope also reiterated the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion this year, urging families “to accept the children that God gives them”.

Check Also

Turkey orders arrest of 219 soldiers in Gulen investigation: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 219 soldiers with suspected links to …

The politics of a plot to kill Sri Lanka’s president

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A plot to kill the president, links to foreign intelligence, a rogue …