Argentina legalizes abortion after marathon Senate debate News
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Argentina legalizes abortion after marathon Senate debate

Argentina’s Senate on Wednesday passed a law legalizing abortion after a marathon 12-hour session, a victory for the country’s women’s movement that has been fighting for the right for decades.

In addition to allowing abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, the legislation establishes that even after that period, a pregnancy can be legally terminated if it was the result of rape or if the person’s life or health is in danger. It will also allow health professionals to refuse to provide abortions provided they refer the patient to another medical center. However, such an objection won’t be allowed if a pregnant person’s life or health is in danger.

The vote was passed with a tally of 38 in favor, 29 against, and 1 abstention. The legislation had already been approved by Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies (the lower house) and had the support of President Alberto Fernández. Similar legislation had failed in 2018.

The abolition makes Argentina the first country in conservative Latin America to legalize abortion. Argentina’s feminist movement had been demanding legal abortion for more than 30 years. Until now, abortion in the country was penalized with few exceptions allowed.

After the vote, President Alberto Fernandez stated, “Safe, legal and free abortion is now the law. Today, we are a better society that expands women’s rights and guarantees public health.”

Supporters said the legislation would eradicate the clandestine abortions that have caused more than 3,000 deaths in the country since 1983. On the other hand, the bishops’ conference expressed disappointment with the legislation’s approval. The Catholic Church argues that abortion violates the right to life.