The lower house of Argentina’s parliament has passed a bill to legalize abortion. The BBC reports that the bill should be passed in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, if it is to become law. Various women’s rights groups in the country have long called for legalization of abortion.
In a vote in Parliament, 131 MPs voted in favor of the bill. There were 116 people against. The Senate is expected to vote later this year.
In Argentina, abortion is now permitted only in cases of rape or maternal health risk. Many women face lawsuits if they have an abortion for some other reason. In that context, President Alberto Fernandez proposed the Bill. If the bill becomes law, local women will have the right to have an abortion within 14 weeks of conception.
MPs took part in a 20-hour debate on the bill in the lower house of parliament from Thursday to Friday morning. The vote is later. The Senate vote could lead to a strong fight for or against the bill. Earlier in 2016, a similar bill was passed in the lower house to legalize abortion, but was rejected by the Senate.
“I’m a Catholic,” President Fernandez said. But I have to make laws for all. He said on Thursday that it was an important public health issue. On the same day, the Roman Catholic Church again opposed abortion. But the country’s Women and Gender Minister Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta said: “We have written a new chapter in our history.”