The country’s decision will encourage campaigners for more liberal laws but may invigorate their opponents, too
Jan 9th 2021
Within days Argentina’s president, Alberto Fernández, is expected to sign a law making abortion legal. Argentine women will be able to terminate their pregnancies within the first 14 weeks for any reason. The measure is a big deal. With 45m people, Argentina is the fourth-most-populous country in Latin America, a predominantly Catholic region, and the native country of the current pope. It is now the largest of the few Latin American countries that allow abortion on demand (see map). Argentina’s new law will see the share of women in the region with such access rise from 3% to 10%.
Pro-abortion groups hail it as part of a marea verde (green wave), named for the verdant scarves worn by women’s-rights campaigners, not all of whom advocate greater access to abortion. Argentina’s decision has inspired discussion in Peru, says Susana Chávez, an obstetrician and congressional candidate for the centrist Purple Party. There is “an opening, and parties and politicians are starting to talk about it”, she says. Mexico’s left-wing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has tried to avoid the issue, seemed to grant the possibility of liberalisation after Argentina’s decision. Women should decide whether the law should be changed, he said.