Abortion and post-abortion care in Argentina are heavily restricted, and only allowed in case of rape or when a woman’s health is in danger. Even then though, many doctors fear legal reprisals or cite conscientious objection. A previous bill proposed the complete decriminalization of abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, but it got rejected by the Senate in 2018.
Hope for legalising abortion resurfaced after the election of the current president, Alberto Fernández in December 2019, who – for the first time – openly supported abortion rights and promised in his inaugural speech in March 2020 to send a bill to the congress, which would allow for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Before he could do that though, Argentina registered its first COVID-19 cases, thus putting a halt to the process of legalising abortion.
With no end in sight for the pandemic lockdown, protesters, public figures, journalists, artists argued that the pandemic is not a valid reason for delaying the bill. In fact, there is even more reason now for legalising abortion because of the health risks caused by clandestine abortions. Now, President Alberto Fernández reaffirmed his commitment and his government is preparing to send a bill to Argentina’s lower house before the year is out.
The event is moderated by Paola Bergallo, professor at the University of Torcuato Di Tella, in Buenos Aires, and will have as panellists Alicia Yamin, lecturer on Law and senior fellow at Harvard Law School, Mariela Belski, lawyer and executive director of Amnistía Internacional Argentina, and Ximena Casas, Women’s Rights Researcher for the Americas region at Human Rights Watch.
Paola Bergallo is a professor at the University of Torcuato Di Tella, in Buenos Aires. She holds a J.S.D. and a J.S.M. from the Stanford University, a LLM from Columbia University and a LLB with honours from the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
Alicia Yamin is a lecturer on Law and a senior fellow at Harvard Law School. Also, she is the research leader of the Gender, Sexuality and the Law unit at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation. She is trained in both law and public health at Harvard.
Mariela Belski is a lawyer and executive director of Amnistía Internacional Argentina. She holds a LLB from the University of Buenos Aires, a master’s degree in human rights from the University of Essex, and a diploma in human rights and democratization processes from the University of Chile.
Ximena Casas is the Women’s Rights Researcher for the Americas region at Human Rights Watch. She earned her LLB from Rosario University Bogotá, her LLM with honours at the Columbia University and her diploma on Human Rights and Gender at Universidad de Chile.