BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The bishops of Argentina said that this week’s vote in the House of Representatives to legalize abortion shows the shortcomings of both the Church and society in accompanying women and educating people.
In a statement, the bishops said the vote calls them to recognize the “weaknesses in our pastoral efforts: comprehensive sex education in our educational institutions, a fuller recognition of the common dignity of women and men, and the accompaniment of women at risk for abortion or who have gone through that trauma.”
“These are all calls from reality that call us to a response as a Church,” they said.
By a vote of 129 to 125 with one abstention, Argentina’s House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would legalize abortion through 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill will now be sent to the Senate and then to President Mauricio Macri, who has encouraged “responsible” debate over the topic and said that he personally opposes the legislation but will not veto it if Congress approves it.
The current law in Argentina prohibits abortion, except when the mother’s life or health is determined to be in danger, or in cases of rape.
If passed, the bill would allow would allow abortion for any reason up to the 14th week of gestation. Minors under age 16 could get an abortion without having to inform their parents.
Health care workers under the bill could be eligible for conscience-based objections to participating in an abortion if they make such a request in advance “individually and in writing” to the director of their medical centers. Institutions and health care facilities as a whole would not be allowed to conscientiously object to abortion.
The Argentine bishops stressed the need for dialogue and efforts “to seek new and creative solutions so that no woman has to go for an abortion.” They pointed to the need to address the challenges facing many women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, such as poverty, social marginalization and gender violence.
Unidad Provida (Pro-Life Unity), an Argentine network representing some 100 pro-life organizations, echoed the need to address challenges facing women rather than offer abortion as a solution.
With the passage of the abortion bill in the House, the group said, “We are dangerously approaching the establishment of a throwaway policy which allows the systematic elimination of persons, without solving maternal mortality or other profound problems that harm women.”
The network charged that the House vote “took place in a context overshadowed by disinformation campaigns, political pressures and economic interests which undoubtedly influenced the vote of our representatives.”
“False figures, expressions and gimmicky slogans have been thrown around, far removed from reality. … [This] blinds us from understanding the magnitude of what we are debating, which is nothing more than institutionalizing violence against women. In each abortion an innocent boy or girl dies, and a woman is destroyed,” the group said.
As debate moves to the Senate, Pro-Life Unity voiced hope, saying that the heavily attended marches for life throughout the country show that “the Argentine people have become aware of what is at stake.”
The network renewed its commitment to work “with even greater enthusiasm, offering our representatives all our support.”