Following a major step in a conservative region Argentina, the Congress has legalized abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, making history as the first major Latin American country with this decision.
Pro-choice and anti-abortion campaigners have gathered around Argentina, the Buenos Aires’s congress building with 38 in favour, 29 against and one abstention.
Until now, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s health was at risk. However, the bill had been approved by the Chamber of Deputies earlier this month.
The activists hope the passing of the law in Argentina will inspire other countries to follow suit.
Large crowds of campaigners both for and against abortion had gathered following the debate on huge screens.
Moreover, opponents of abortion also followed the debate but were separated from pro-choice demonstrators.
Argentina: Why legalizing abortions was necessary?
President Fernández had made reintroducing it one of his campaign promises. “I’m Catholic but I have to legislate for everyone,” he argued.
The president also said providing free and legal abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy was a matter of public health as “every year around 38,000 women” are taken to hospital due to clandestine terminations and that “since the restoration of democracy [in 1983] more than 3,000 have died”.
After the vote, President Fernández tweeted: “Today, we’re a better society, which widens women’s rights and guarantees public health.”
On the other hand, a senator who voted against the law has said, “The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life.”
Abortions are completely banned in El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic and only allowed in certain restricted circumstances in most other Latin American nations.