Argentina’s Lower House has approved a bill to legalise elective abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. The bill must now pass the Senate where supporters of abortion will have a difficult time convincing conservative provincial representatives.
Despite their visible exhaustion after a 22-hour marathon session, lawmakers Thursday morning delivered passionate final remarks on a bill that, if it passes the Senate, would see Argentina join neighbouring Uruguay in legalising elective abortion.
The final vote count had a margin of four votes, with 129 affirmative votes against 125 negative votes. A handful of lawmakers had not made their intentions public prior to the start of the session on Wednesday morning, prompting speculation some were waiting to take the more popular of the two decisions.
Crowds of supporters and opponents of the measure watched the debate on large screens set up outside Congress. The organisational capacity of the country's feminist and leftist movements was on full display, with green flags flooding the streets of Buenos Aires until well into Thursday morning. Similar events took place across the country.
President Mauricio Macri has said he will sign the bill if it is approved.
On Thursday morning, lawmakers continued addressing the measure with proposals to modify the bill before its entry into the Senate.
In the Senate, all eyes will turn to former president, Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who despite some significant social reforms like same-sex marriage and the gender identity law refused to address abortion during her two-term presidency.
Argentina now allows abortion only in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health.
The Catholic Church strongly opposes the new measure.