Argentina becomes the fourth country in Latin America to legalize abortion.
Argentina’s Senate has passed a landmark abortion bill, becoming the fourth Latin American country to legalize abortion.
The Senate voted 38 in favor against 29 against with one abstention to approve a bill allowing the procedure until the 14th week of pregnancy, countering the traditionally strong influence of the Catholic Church in the region.
The controversial vote follows a marathon debate that began at 4 p.m. (19:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the plaza around the National Congress for a 12-hour debate, singing chants of “legal abortion in hospital” as the votes cast.
“I can’t believe it,” said Viviana Rios Alvarado, 25, kissing her friend moments after the vote.
“So much that we have been through or that people we love have gone through. It took too long, but now it’s there for others, and for us too. And it’s amazing, ”she said.
The vote is the result of a long campaign in a country that has remained divided on the issue.
Opponents also rallied outside Congress, holding a mass and praying that lawmakers block the bill.
Upon reading the result, a crowd of thousands erupted into cheers outside the Senate building in Buenos Aires, waving the green flags that represented their campaign as green smoke rose above the crowd.
“We made it sisters. We made history. We did it together. There are no words at the moment, it goes through body and soul, ”tweeted Monica Macha, a politician from the center-left coalition of President Alberto Fernandez who supported the law.
The decision could set the tone for a broader shift in conservative Latin America, where calls for increased reproductive rights for women are growing.
Across the region, abortions are available on demand only in Communist Cuba, relatively tiny in Uruguay and parts of Mexico.
“Passing a law that legalizes abortion in a Catholic country as large as Argentina will energize the fight to secure women’s rights in Latin America,” said Juan Pappier, senior researcher for the Americas at Human Rights Watch.
“While there is certainly resistance, I think it’s fair to predict that, as happened when Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, this new law could have a domino effect in region.
Until now, Argentine law only allowed abortion in cases of serious risk to the mother’s health or in cases of rape.
Pro-choice groups argue that the criminalization of abortion harms women from the most vulnerable groups who they say are often forced to seek unsafe illegal abortions.
Argentina’s powerful Catholic Church argues that this practice violates the right to life. Argentina is the birthplace of Pope Francis.
A law change was narrowly rejected in a Senate vote in 2018 after being approved in the lower house, but the latest bill was the first to gain support from the ruling government.