Hundreds of thousands of Argentinians filled the streets of over 200 cities in their country on March 25, 2018, to denounce a bill to legalize abortion that Parliament is to vote on shortly after Easter.
Every year for twenty years now, Argentina celebrates the National Day of the Unborn Child on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation that commemorates Mary’s “yes” to her mission of becoming the Mother of God, and the conception of Christ in her virginal womb.
A Huge Rally
In Pope Francis’ home country, the 2018 edition of the March for Life was historic: according to the numbers given by the participants and relayed by Vatican News, two million people throughout the country joined the protest.
In Buenos Aires on this sunny March 25, an unending stream of Porteños – as the inhabitants of the capital are called – wove through the main streets between Sarmiento and Libertador Avenues.
The participants were young for the most part, and from every social level of the population. There were no slogans or banners referring to political parties; only Argentinian flags and banners calling for the protection of human life from conception to death. Similar protests were held in over two hundred cities throughout Argentina. Here are some of the most important or most well-known: Córdoba, Mendoza, Rosario, Bahía Blanca, Resistencia, Concordia, Paraná, Mar del Plata, Río Gallegos, and Ushuaia at the southern tip of the continent. Vaticanist Andrea Tornielli believes that the few short words from Pope Francis in his letter to Argentinians on March 16, 2018, were taken as a discreet but real expression of his support. The Holy Father wrote: “I ask you all to be channels of goodness and beauty, so that you can make your contribution in the defense of life and justice”.
The Bill in Question
This year’s March for Life took place in a critical context. The Chamber of Deputies is currently considering a bill that would authorize abortion on request during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy in three situations (the first of which is already legalized):
- When the pregnancy is the fruit of a criminal attack; abortion in this circumstance is already legal in Argentina – as if an evil (rape) could legitimize another evil (the murder of an innocent);
- When the life of the mother is physically or psychologically endangered.
- In the case of a genetic deformity in the child.
The bill originally gave 12 weeks as the cut-off before extending it to 14 weeks, and is based on the mother’s right to her health which would allow her to dispose as she wills of that of her unborn child:
In the exercise of her human right to health, every woman has the right to decide whether to put an end to her pregnancy during the first fourteen weeks of the gestation process.
Article 3 lays out the conditions for access to abortion. A simple declaration made under oath in the presence of the medical staff and claiming that the pregnancy is the result of a rape is all that is needed. Concretely, a young girl could have an abortion against the will of her parents or of the child’s father simply by declaring she was raped – her word would be enough.
The same article lists pell-mell the dangers that a child presents for his own mother: “danger for the life or the physical, mental, or social health of the woman, considered in terms of complete health as a human right.” This opens the door to law based on any reason whatsoever, in the name of a right that is actually nothing but licentiousness.
The website Crux says that the Chamber of Deputies is divided. But if the bill is adopted, the Senate, most of whose members are against abortion, is expected to reject it.
The President of the Republic, Mauricio Macri, who claims to be pro-life personally, has declared that he will not veto this law defended by his own government if is it adopted. This anything but courageous wait-and-see attitude is exactly what is to be expected of his liberal convictions.
An Overused Argument
One of the reasons given by the Argentinian government is that this law would make it easier to control clandestine abortions that are dangerous for women’s health, especially in the poorest circles. This argument has been used everywhere; it was the argument used in France when the Veil Law was adopted in 1975.
To denounce this sophism, 22 priests who work with the poor in the “villas miseria” in Buenos Aires, signed a document meant to show public opinion the truth. These pastors of souls declared that it is easy to use the interests of the poor as a pretext to justify the bill, but that in reality, “abortion is never felt as a need” by the “poor people we encounter every day”.
For these priests, “the struggle against poverty” is what should be “at the center of the government’s concerns”, not this hypocritical worry for the well-being of women who abort.
Almost all of the Argentinian Catholic bishops participated in the March for Life. Unlike their European counterparts, few of whom go out into the streets, they are determined to believe that the battle has not yet been lost.
Ana Belen Marmora, spokeswoman for the organization Unidad Provida, declared at the end of the March on March 25 in Buenos Aires:
Today, in every rally that is taking place across the country, we’re uniting to tell our representatives who are going to debate this issue in Congress that abortion doesn’t resolve anything, that it’s a social failure and a setback in matters of rights.
Progressivism will help nothing; it will only accelerate the moral decadence of our societies.