'We made history': Argentina legalizes abortion in historic Senate vote

 By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: Yahoo News

Argentina on brink of Senate historic vote on Wednesday legalizes elective abortion, marking a historic political shift in the heavily Catholic country in Latin America and homeland of the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

Following a debate that went well past midnight, the Senate passed the bill 38-29 with one abstention just over two weeks after the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Argentina's Congress, narrowly approved the measure.

The proposed law will legalize abortion in all cases up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion in Argentina, South America's third-most populous country, is currently only permitted when a pregnancy results from rape or endangers the life or health of the woman. In all other circumstances, abortion is illegal and punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Abortion advocates hope Argentina's decision will spur similar movements in Latin America's other Catholic-majority states.

"The emotion invades us, the work was a lot and the road to get here was long, but we got there," Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, minister of women, genders and diversity wrote Monday evening before the vote.

"We have the opportunity to make history," she added.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández initially proposed the legislation in mid-November. Fernández, who was elected in late 2019, has been vocal about legalizing abortion during his presidency and says he will sign the measure.

Pope Francis, however, has previously voiced his opposition to the legislation, saying it was always unacceptable, regardless of whether a fetus is fatally ill or has pathological disorders.

Argentina joins a small group of Latin American and Caribbean countries that have legalized elective abortion, including Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana. A significant majority of countries in the region restrict access unless the mother's life is threatened, and some countries outlaw it altogether.

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