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Argentinian women celebrate victory after long struggle sees abortion legalised

FEMINIST and abortion rights activists erupted into celebration in Buenos Aires early today after the passage of a law legalising abortion in Argentina.

Thousands of campaigners took to the streets of the capital on Tuesday night and waited outside the Senate building until the result of a vote on the legislation was announced at 4am the following morning. 

There were loud cheers and joyous tears at the news that the Bill, which legalises abortion at up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, had been passed with 38 votes in favour, 29 against and one abstention.

Women wore green scarves on their wrists as a symbol of the national movement called the Green Wave, which unites over 700 organisations in the common aims of legalising abortion and providing women with safe and accessible healthcare. 

The victorious message, “We did it! It’s law!” was projected on a big screen while green smoke was released, green lights flashed and loud music played.  

Amnesty International Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said: “Today, Argentina has made an emblematic step forward in defending the rights of women, girls and people with reproductive capacity.”

International Planned Parenthood Federation board chairwoman Kate Gilmore praised the women’s movement, saying: “Argentinian Green Wave, we thank you. Your persistence, bravery, solidarity and compassion will continue inspiring us all to realise women’s right to safe and legal abortion care all over the world.”

The fight for legalisation of abortion has been a long battle for Argentinian women. Just two years ago, a Bill proposed by the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion was rejected by the Senate of the majority-Catholic country.

However left-wing President Alberto Fernandez, elected last year, promised to back the Bill and pushed for the campaign.

He said today: “Safe, legal and free abortion is law… Today we are a better society that expands rights to women and guarantees public health.”

Argentina now joins Uruguay and Guyana as the only countries in South America to allow abortion on request. 

A study in British medical journal the Lancet has shown that more than 6.4 million abortions are carried out in Latin America each year, with only  one in four being safe.

Juan Pappier, a senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, said, “Adopting a law that legalises abortion in a Catholic country as big as Argentina will energise the struggle to ensure women’s rights in Latin America.”

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