Argentina's Senate voted against decriminalizing abortion. Unsafe abortions are the #1 cause of maternal deaths. pic.twitter.com/yzC3K0gM5Y— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 12, 2018
Argentina’s abortion ban has taken its first life. A young woman died after a botched attempt at self-abortion, not one week after Argentina voted no to a landmark bill that would have legalized abortion up to 14 weeks.
The 24-year-old mother of two, named only as Elizabeth, tried to terminate her pregnancy at home by putting parsley inside her. Parsley is supposed to induce menstruation. However, it caused septic shock and severe infection. She was taken to a hospital in Buenos Aires and the staff quickly performed a hysterectomy on her. She was also taken to two different facilities in two days but doctors were unable to save her life, Argentine newspaper Clarin reported.
This was Elizabeth’s third abortion.
Last week, the Senate had the opportunity to vote yes to groundbreaking bill, Pregnancy Voluntary Interruption (IVE), to make abortion legal, which had already passed the lower house in June. President Mauricio Macri said he would sign it into law if the upper house passed it. However, after a 16-hour debate, 38 lawmakers voted against it, 31 in favor.
The law would have allowed girls as young as 13 to abort their pregnancies within the first 14 weeks and within five days of the woman’s request.
Argentines believe Pope Francis, whose birth place is Argentina, put pressure on politicians to reject the legislation in its last stages.
After Elizabeth’s death, relatives and activists gathered outside the Buenos Aires government house, blaming the Senate for the young woman’s death. Internet users also spread the hashtag, #ElSenadoEsResponsable, which translates as The Senate Is Responsible.
The Network of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide, a group of abortion rights workers asked “How many women and pregnant people will need to die [before lawmakers agree] that abortion must be legal, safe and free in Argentina?” on Facebook.
Senator Eduardo Aguilar wrote on Twitter: “There might not be a law, but abortions will continue, and if it's without a law, the woman's life is at risk.”
Liz, 24 años. Una nueva muerte por aborto clandestino en la Argentina. Lo dijimos el 8: podrá no haber ley, lo que seguirá habiendo son abortos; y si es sin ley, poniendo en riesgo la vida de las mujeres.— Eduardo Aguilar (@eduar_aguilar) August 14, 2018
Although the IVE bill was shelved, President Macri is considering other alternatives for decriminalizing abortion, stated The Washington Post. Women in Argentina are currently allowed to terminate their pregnancies if they conceive through rape or if it threatens their health. For any other reasons, abortion can carry unto four months in prison for the mother and up to six month for the doctor.
According to the World Health Organization, a woman in a developing country dies every eight minutes from complication arising from unlawful abortion. Stats show over 354,000 illegal abortions occur each year in Argentina, resulting in over 70,000 hospitalizations, according to Telesur. Still, abortion continues to be a taboo, resulting in disproportionate risk to underprivileged women who do not have the means to get proper medical care and have to resort to desperate and dangerous measures to end a pregnancy.
According to Guttmacher, abortion bans are very ineffective at reducing the number of abortions. They only increase the risk for women who seek out unsafe, unsound procedures.
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