The bishops said they would 'continue fighting for the dignity of all human life'

Argentina’s bishops have condemned the vote by the country’s parliament to radically liberalise abortion laws.

The proposal, which would decriminalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, was approved in the lower house of congress through a 129-125 vote, reported the Catholic News Service.  

“This decision hurts us as Argentines,” the bishops’ conference said. “But the pain for the abandonment and the exclusion of innocents must be transformed into strength and hope, to continue fighting for the dignity of all human life.”

Although the country is majority Catholic, there was a sharp divide in response to the issue. A government survey polled Argentine opinions regarding the initiative in April, with 45 per cent of respondents in favor and 46 per cent opposed. The law was generally supported in cities and opposed in more rural areas.

The legislation must pass in the Senate before it becomes a law. Guillermo Galeano, spokesman for the Diocese of Lomas de Zamora, said he thinks it will be harder to get approval in the Senate than it was in the lower house of congress. However, he expressed that there is a possibility it will pass.

“It’s a surprise what happened today, so what happens in the Senate could also be a surprise,” Galeano said.

The Argentine bishops saw the initiative as a call for the church to place more of an emphasis on caring for those affected by abortion or unwanted pregnancies.

“As pastors, this recent time has caused us to recognize weaknesses in our pastoral work: integral sexual education in our educational institutes, the full recognition of women and men, and the accompaniment of women who are exposed to abortion or who have gone through this trauma. All of these are calls of a reality, which demands a response as a church,” the bishops’ conference said.