Argentina was the largest Latin American country to legalize abortion on Wednesday.
Supporters cheered and wept outside the Senate as lawmakers in Pope Francis’ home country approved the bill at 4:00 a.m. after a 12-hour debate that lasted all night.
It was passed between 38 and 29 – with one abstention – and allows an abortion up to 14 weeks of gestation or later if it threatens the woman’s life or is the result of rape.
“We did it, sisters. We made history. We did it together, ”tweeted Monica Macha, a legislator in the center-left ruling coalition of President Alberto Fernandez.
The president said the law made Argentina “a better society, expanding women’s rights and guaranteeing public health”.
“Safe, legal and free abortion is the law now,” Fernandez tweeted about his election pledges and one that has already been approved by the Argentine Chamber of Deputies.
Like most of Latin America, Argentina has punished abortion because of the influence of the Catholic Church, which believes it is a sin that violates the right to life.
So far, it was only allowed in the much smaller countries of Cuba, Uruguay, French Guiana and parts of Mexico.
Proponents of the law said it would eradicate the secret abortions that authorities say have caused more than 3,000 deaths in the country since 1983.
“This has been a struggle for many years, many women have died. Never again will there be a woman killed in a secret abortion, “said Vilma Ibarra, law author and legal and technical secretary to the presidency, who cried when she spoke to reporters after the result.
Opponents of the bill had also gathered in front of the Senate, with some setting up an altar with a crucifix under a blue tent.
“These politicians do not represent the majority,” said opponent Luciana Prat, an Argentine flag on her shoulders. “In all the polls people are against it.”
The Pope also appeared to hint at the vote in his homeland in a tweet sent before the debate. “The Son of God was born an outcast to tell us that every outcast is a child of God,” he wrote.
With postal wires