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Argentine Senate approves bill to legalise abortion

Argentina approves bill to legalize abortion

In a landmark victory for women's rights in Argentina, the South American country on Wednesday passed a bill to legalize abortion.

The fight for legalisation of abortion has been a long battle for Argentinian women. Until yesterday, abortion in the country was only allowed in case of rape or if the mother's health was at risk.

But the law, one of the most permissive in the world and with no parallel in the region, was strongly supported by the media, TV personalities, and influencers.

The measure passed by a vote of 38 to 29. President Alberto Fernández presented legislation in November - it was quickly approved in the lower house - and has promised to sign it into law. The bill had been one of President Alberto Fernández's campaign promises where he had said he would reintroduce it after it was rejected in 2018. "Today we leave a better place for our sons and daughters". It will have repercussions across a continent where the procedure is largely illegal.

Abortion-rights activists watch a live stream of the Senate vote in Buenos Aires.

In Ireland abortion has only been legal since 2018, following a historic referendum which did away with the constitutional ban on abortion in the Catholic country.

Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, has previously voiced his opposition to the legislation, equating abortion to hiring "a hitman". The vote is expected to be close after what was expected to be a marathon debate, beginning at 4 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) and likely to stretch into Wednesday morning. In fact, for several decades, following the beliefs of the Catholic Church, even the sale of contraceptives was prohibited in the country.

Pastor Jorge Gomez, head of the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of Argentina (Aciera) joined his Catholic counterparts in protesting the measure. "There's a very strong Catholic culture in the political world", sociologist Fortunato Mallimaci told the French News Agency.

Demonstrators in favour of legalizing abortion react after the senate passed an abortion bill, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 30, 2020. This time, it was supported by the government. The outcome of the latest vote, however, had still been considered uncertain. The other countries are Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana.

"These politicians aren't representing the majority", said opponent Luciana Prat, an Argentine flag covering her shoulders. "People are against this", she added. "Every year around 38,000 women are taken to hospital due to (clandestine) abortions and since the restoration of democracy (in 1983) more than 3,000 have died of this", said Fernandez.

It will allow conscientious refusal to participate in an abortion for health professionals and private medical institutions at which all doctors are against the procedure.

"Down with patriarchy, it's going to fall, going to fall", the women in the rally say. Conscientious objection also can not be claimed if a pregnant woman's life or health is in danger.