Senators in Argentina voted early Wednesday to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy by 38 votes to 29, with one lawmaker abstaining.
Why it matters: The predominantly Catholic country is the largest Latin American nation to vote to legalize elective abortion. President Alberto Fernández has already pledged to sign the bill into law.
- Argentina is the birthplace of Pope Francis, who has previously voiced opposition to abortion, likening the procedure to hiring a “hitman.”
- The pope weighed into Argentina’s debate the day before the vote, “praising a women’s group from impoverished neighborhoods for its activism against abortion,” the New York Times reports.
Details: Thousands of pro- and anti-abortion protesters waited outside Argentina’s Congress as lawmakers debated the measure for some 12 hours.
- Under the bill, exceptions to the elective 14-week abortion limit will be made in cases of rape and in regards to the health of a pregnant woman.
The big picture: Latin America is known for its socially conservative views on abortion, with Uruguay Guyana and Cuba the only nations in the region to permit abortions upon request.
- Abortions were previously only allowed in Argentina in order to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest. Argentine senators have voted against nine abortion bills over the past 15 years, the Washington Post notes.
- The Roman Catholic Church’s domination in the country is decreasing as a feminist movement continues to rise, the NYT notes.
What to watch: Pro-abortion rights momentum is building in Latin America and Argentina’s vote may influence other countries in the region to introduce similar measures, per the Times.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.
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