Argentina’s lower house of Congress voted in favor of a bill to legalize abortion on Friday, moving the country one step closer to becoming the most populous Latin American country to allow for abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill, which was part of Argentina’s president Alberto Fernández’s campaign pledge, passed by 131 to 117 votes after more than 20 hours of debate. It will now move onto the Senate for a final vote, which is expected at the end of this month.
Abortion is only allowed in Argentina when a woman is raped or if there is a risk to a woman’s health. Many women are forced to seek clandestine abortions, which is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in Argentina, the Guardian reported.
In August 2018, the senate narrowly rejected a bill that would have legalized abortion. Last year, an 11-year-old girl who was raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend was denied an abortion and forced to deliver a baby via C-section, sparking outrage in the country.
Health officials had stalled the girl’s requests for almost five weeks and gave her drugs that accelerated the development of the fetus.