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Argentina Legalizes Abortion In Historic Senate Vote

The country will become only the third in Latin America to allow unmitigated access to the procedure.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Pro-choice activists wait for the result of a Senate bill to legalize abortion outside the Congress in Buenos Aires on December 30, 2020.
Pro-choice activists wait for the result of a Senate bill to legalize abortion outside the Congress in Buenos Aires on December 30, 2020. EMILIANO LASALVIA/AFP

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Argentina’s Senate approves abortion legislation, Brexit deal to be approved by the U.K. Parliament, and the new coronavirus variant is detected in the United States.

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Argentina Legalizes Abortion

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Argentina’s Senate approves abortion legislation, Brexit deal to be approved by the U.K. Parliament, and the new coronavirus variant is detected in the United States.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Argentina Legalizes Abortion

Argentina has become only the third country in Latin America—after Cuba and Uruguay—to allow unmitigated access to abortion after the country’s Senate approved legislation in a 38-29 vote.

The law grants access to abortion up to 14 weeks of gestation, and allows for doctors to refuse the procedure based on their personal beliefs.

The vote is a victory for Argentina’s grassroots pro-choice movement, which has kept the topic in the national spotlight even after a 2018 bill failed to pass the Senate.

President Alberto Fernández has indicated that he will sign the bill into law and has made support for the issue a key plank of his presidency.

Francis’s failed intervention. The decision will anger the country’s Catholic and growing evangelical Christian bases, who also mobilized en masse in recent weeks to pressure lawmakers to block the legislation. It also means the intervention of Argentinean-born Pope Francis—who in November asked supporters, “Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it fair to hire a hit man to solve a problem?”—ultimately came to nothing.

More to come? “Although there will certainly be resistance, I think it’s fair to predict that, as it occurred when Argentina legalized same sex marriage in 2010, this new law could have a domino effect in the region,” Juan Pappier, an Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

Pushback. That resistance is likely to be swift. Silvia Elías de Pérez, a senator opposed to the bill, has accused President Fernández of pressuring lawmakers to pass the legislation. “If the bill becomes law, we will go to court to have it declared unconstitutional,” she said.


What We’re Following Today

Coronavirus variant reaches the U.S. A new variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the United Kingdom has been detected in the United States for the first time. State officials in Colorado said a man in his 20s had tested positive for the variant, although he showed no history of travel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that more cases of the variant are likely to emerge in the coming days and that it should not affect immunity acquired through a vaccine or natural means.

House of Commons vote on Brexit deal. The British Parliament is today likely to rush through approval of the Brexit trade deal agreed on Dec. 24 before the transition period ends on Jan. 31. Hardline MPs in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party have given their backing to the measure amid a flurry of positive reviews from the country’s conservative press, and many members of the opposition Labour party have also indicated their support. The deal is expected to become law as soon as tonight and Johnson is expected to tell lawmakers that the United Kingdom will be “the best friend and ally the EU could have.”

Hong King activists jailed. Ten Hong Kong activists who attempted to flee to Taiwan by boat in August have been sentenced to prison terms of up to three years after being found guilty of making an illegal border crossing by a court in Shenzhen. The activists had been denied access to lawyers and only notified of their court date three days in advance, their families said. “Their so-called ‘crime’ was to flee tyranny,” a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Beijing told AFP.


Keep an Eye On

Hindu-Muslim tensions. The state of Madhya Pradesh is set to become the second Indian state to pass a law targeting intermarriage between Hindus and Muslims. Without naming a specific faith, the law would make a husband pressuring his wife to convert to his religion a crime punishable by prison time.

A similar law was passed last month in Uttar Pradesh, and 30 Muslim men have since been arrested under the new rules. The legislatures of both states are controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The states of Haryana, Karnataka, and Assam have also said they are considering enacting the same legislation.

Kushner’s dodgy dealings? The family business of White House adviser Jared Kushner, Kushner Companies, is to raise at least $100 million by way of a bond sale in Israel, the Wall Street Journal reports, raising concerns about the independence of a senior aide who has been the public face of the Trump administration’s recently brokered peace deals between Israel and Arab states.

The news comes after the New York Times reported that Kushner Companies received $30 million from an Israeli investor shortly before Jared Kushner and U.S. President Donald Trump visited Israel in May.

Ghana election contested. Ghana’s main opposition party is to formally challenge the results of last month’s presidential contest, a rarity in a country normally free of such turmoil. Former President John Mahama lost out to incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo by roughly four percentage points. Mahama’s party said the vote was the product of a “rigged election” and that it will take the case to the country’s Supreme Court. Ironically, Akufo-Addo was the last candidate to contest the results of a presidential election when Mahama won the race in 2012.


Odds and Ends

Take+Back+CTRL. References to an obsolete internet suite and outdated encryption buried in the text of the 1,246-page Brexit deal have prompted fears that parts of the rushed agreement may have been copied and pasted from elsewhere.

The text refers to Netscape Communicator, a web browser and e-mail client first released in 1997, as an example of suitable software to use to share sensitive information online. The reference was likely taken from a 2008 EU law which used the same language.

“I believe this looks like a standard copy-and-paste of old standards, and with little understanding of the technical details,” Bill Buchanan, a security researcher, told the BBC. Buchanan added that much more worrying than the retro browser reference was the document’s recommendation of security standards that were ten years out of date.


That’s it for today.

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Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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