Legal abortion: UN bodies give their backing

The Working Group on discrimination against women urged the Argentine state to approve the bill to legalize the voluntary interruption of pregnancy. This is the latest in a series of such recommendations by UN bodies, based on human rights considerations.

The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice sent a letter to the government in which it expressed its support for the bill to legalize abortion, one day before Argentina’s lower house of Congress approved the proposal (which now passes to the Senate).

“We welcome the bill currently in the Argentine Congress and urge Congress to approve the bill to guarantee that the rights of women and girls are guaranteed in Argentina,” the letter (available in Spanish) states. “This bill would put Argentine legislation on abortion closer to complying with international human rights standards regarding women’s right to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity and non-discrimination. It would be a welcome precedent for other states in the region and an encouraging sign that this much-needed reform can and must be initiated.”

This statement in favor of legalizing abortion, to guarantee to women and people with the capacity to gestate the full exercise of their human rights, comes in the wake of similar declarations by other UN bodies.

-On June 6, the Committee that evaluates implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child released its concluding observations on Argentina. Among other measures, it requested that the state ensure access to safe abortion services for adolescent girls and to sexual and reproductive health education.

-The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recommended to the Argentine state that it adopt the bill for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy and ensure access to safe legal abortion and post-abortion services.

-The UN Human Rights Committee that evalutes compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recommended that the State “consider decriminalizing abortion” and expressed its concern over the obstacles that continue restricting access to abortions that are already legal.