Marches and tears on eve of vote to legalize abortion in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – With Argentina on the verge of a Senate move on legalizing abortion, women in favor marched, banged pots and made their voices heard Sunday, August 5.

Ahead of the August 8, Wednesday, Senate hearing, 32 women in Buenos Aires donned the white bonnets and red cloaks worn by women forced into childbearing servitude on the television drama "The Handmaid's Tale," based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel.

At the Rio de la Plata, they also raised their green handkerchiefs, a symbol of the struggle for legal abortion.

It is a thorny issue in Argentina – which is mostly Roman Catholic and the home country of Pope Francis, the first pontiff born in Latin America. Many in the country believe the church teaching that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder.

"Doing this helps us express what is not being heard – which is that abortions happen. And we need them to be done in a safe place, open to the community, to all women," Bernardina Rossini, one of the marchers, told AFP.

The women embraced, and several wept openly. Most were between 30 and 60 years old, and between them, a girl walked with her mother.

"It's a way of saying this: it's our body, and we want to decide on what happens ourselves," Rossini stressed.

Approved by Congress' lower house on June 14, the bill sent to the Senate would legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and provide for conscientious objection for practitioners, but not for hospitals.

In the August 8 vote, senators will have to decide on the version of the text adopted by the deputies. The vote is expected to be tight – but if a majority of the 72 senators approve the text, abortion will be legalized. –