The Senate has approved the text of a bill to legalise abortion that will be put to a vote on August 8 in the upper chamber.
As approved by Congress' lower house Chamber of Deputies on June 14, the bill sent to the Senate legalises abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and provides for conscientious objection for practitioners, but not for hospitals.
An initiative to shorten the time frame for abortion was presented to the Senate, but was rejected on Wednesday.
Pro-choice campaigners had hoped to modify the bill, in order to win the support of senators that remain undecided over how they will vote. Some lawmakers are on record as saying they would not vote for the bill in its current form.
In the August 8 vote, senators will now have to decide on the version of the text adopted by the deputies. If most of the 72 senators approve the text, abortion will be legalised.
The vote will be tight, though momentum seems to building in favour of those who reject decriminalisation. So far, a total of 35 senators have said they oppose the bill, with one senator set to abstain and another likely to be absent as she is in the final weeks of pregnancy. That means that half of the chamber is likely to vote against, enough to ensure the reform bid would fail, especially as Vice-President Gabriela Michetti – who would cast the deciding vote in a tie – is on record as saying she will vote against the legislation, if called to cast a ballot.
Supporters and opponents of the legalisation of abortion both demonstrated on Wednesday, as they bid to keep up pressure on undecided lawmakers.