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Legal abortion project: the 5 unknowns on which all eyes are on

“Within the next 10 days I will present a bill for voluntary termination of pregnancy that guarantees abortion at the initial time of pregnancy and allows access to the health system when they make the decision to abort”President Alberto Fernández announced on Sunday at the opening of the legislative sessions of the National Congress. “In the 21st century, every society needs to respect the individual decision of its members to freely dispose of their bodies”he added.

Immediately, the National Campaign for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion -that takes 15 years of work on a bill that already presented eight times and that in 2018 he obtained half penalty in the Chamber of Deputies – issued a statement. There “greeted” the announcement of Fernandez and called for an “urgent, without delay, without violence” debate to “end the underground, criminalization and criminalization”, waiting for the small print of the official project to be known.

“Expectants for the letter of the Executive project. We expect a debate without hypocrisy, ”they said, referring to the next discussion in Congress. As Vilma explained

a, Legal and Technical Secretary of the Nation, The project was written by an interdisciplinary team of the ministries of Health and Women, Gender and Diversity that she coordinated. And in the same interview with C5N he said that “The law will not be compulsively applied to anyone” and that they only seek “that women do not leave their lives in clandestine abortions.”

Until now, the “conditions” in which access to voluntary termination of pregnancy throughout the country will be guaranteed are not known if, as expected, finally this year the law is passed.

One of the unknowns that Fernández unveiled on Sunday was that of “legalization”: The project he will present not only seeks to decriminalize abortion, but to legalize it: this implies Not only does it stop criminalizing women who have abortions but the State guarantees the free practice of voluntary termination of pregnancy in the health system. “If it were only decriminalized, we would have the same problem that abortions will continue under unsafe conditions, even if they are not clandestine,” he tells Infobae Celeste Mac Dougall, feminist activist and member of the Campaign.

“Amnesty International celebrates that for the first time a President expresses his position on abortion but even more so that there is the political decision of sending a project to Congress. But there are some considerations that, following the experience in the region and in Argentina, should be taken into account, ”says Mariela Belski, executive director of Amnesty International Argentina.

And it lists the points on which all eyes will be on when the official project is finally known, which will be after the mobilization of March 9, for International Women’s Day: “Conscientious objection can never be institutional; the access of girls and adolescents to the termination of pregnancy must take into account their autonomy, as the Civil Code is consigned; There must be respect for confidentiality and protection for professional secrecy. All this without prejudice to the complementary policies on access to information, pre and post abortion counseling and Integral Sex Education (ESI) ”.

The five key points of the legalization of abortion

Inclusion in the Mandatory Medical Plan (PMO)

The inclusion in the PMO of a medical practice is the only guarantee of equal access and effective compliance and that is why this point is central to the existing bill and it is expected that it will also be the one in which the Government will present. Being in the PMO, all social works, health systems and prepaid must guarantee the practice free and compulsory throughout the country. In fact, this is why there is a legal claim from Amnesty International and other organizations to the Ministry of Health since 2014.

In Argentina, health institutions cannot excuse themselves from complying with the law by virtue of an alleged objection of institutional conscience. This was defined by the Supreme Court in 2012 on non-punishable abortions -with causal-. While the Constitution provides for personal objection for ethical or religious reasons, institutions must guarantee it. This point is central to guarantee access to voluntary termination of pregnancy, but in the existing project it is not mentioned since it is considered that if abortion is a right, then it cannot be objected and must be guaranteed. This position is postulated by the Network of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide. Although Vilma Ibarra did not want to anticipate what the project says, he did give some clue by stating that “health institutions are here to enforce public health standards.”

Pre and post abortion counseling

This instance is optional and guarantees access to “relevant, accurate, secular, updated and scientific” information on abortion. The woman or pregnant person can request an advice, but it is not obligatory nor necessary condition for the realization: they are offered to those who are going to abort and only if they request it they will have it; and it must be in the language or language that the pregnant person communicates and in accessible formats. There are countries in which an instance of “counseling” is imposed prior to abortion, but both in the existing project and in the positions of feminisms and Human Rights organizations, There is consensus that abortion is a human right and that the only requirement for access must be for the pregnant person to sign a consent.

On this, nothing was advanced even from the Government project and it is expected that no prior and mandatory counseling instance will be included. nor, for example, what exists in Uruguay which is a “reflection period” of five days before accessing abortion.

Every 4 hours there is a birth of girls under 15 in Argentina. Of the 685,394 births of the year 2018, 87,118 were teenagers under 20 years old. Based on these statistics and international conventions for the protection of the rights of girls and adolescents, It is key that access to voluntary termination of pregnancy is guaranteed between the ages of 13 and 16. The Campaign project says that if the voluntary termination of pregnancy should be practiced in a person under 13 years old, their informed consent will be required with the assistance of at least one of their parents or legal representative (if there is none, it will be according to the Law for the Integral Protection of the Rights of Girls, Children and Adolescents, and others, but no judicial authorization should be required). If the voluntary termination of pregnancy is required by a person between 13 and 16 years old, it is presumed that they have the aptitude and maturity to decide the practice, so their consent is enough.

Until 14 weeks and in 5 days

The new bill is expected to guarantee access to abortion on a voluntary basis until the 14th week of gestation: on this, widely discussed in the pre-treatment debates in the National Congress, there is general agreement among those who are in favor of legalization, so it is expected that a lower limit will not be imposed. The practice must also be guaranteed within 5 calendar days in which it is requested with the sole requirement of consent and without distinction of origin, nationality, transit status, residence and / or citizenship of the person requesting it. From the 14th week onwards, some cause will be necessary for access to non-punishable abortion without any kind of deadline and without judicial denunciation – foreseen in the Criminal Code since 1921-: life and health risk or violation.

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