Buenos Aires, Jun 14 (EFE).- Argentina’s lower house on Thursday narrowly passed a bill to decriminalize abortions performed during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The legislation still requires Senate approval.
The fate of the bill, which passed by a narrow 129-125 margin with one abstention, was uncertain until the last minute amid deep divisions within both the ruling party and the opposition.
Party leaders allowed their members to vote their conscience after the conclusion of a 23-hour debate, which began at 11 am Wednesday.
The bill would decriminalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy; currently, the procedure is only allowed in the case of rape or if the woman’s life could be at risk.
Dario Martinez, a lawmaker for the Front for Victory, a left-wing faction of the Justicialist Party (the main Peronist party), said Argentine should follow the lead of neighboring Uruguay, which legalized abortion in 2012.
He said that Uruguayan law had led to a decrease in abortions and abortion-related deaths “because there’s a government trying to solve this problem.”
But Karina Molina, a member of the ruling, center-right Cambiemos (Let’s Change) alliance, slammed the bill and said it would force doctors and nurses to carry out abortions.
“Argentina could allocate funds that will be used for free abortions to assist those women having an unwanted pregnancy. We must safeguard both lives,” she said.
The bill had been introduced at least seven times in Congress but never brought up for debate until conservative President Mauricio Macri said in March that the legislature should include the highly divisive issue in its agenda.
Macri says he personally opposes abortion but would not veto the bill.