• On Wednesday, Argentina became one of the few South American nations that legalized abortion, after hours of debate in the Senate.
• Senate president Cristina Kirchner confirmed the vote, after more than twelve hours of debate, with thousands of pro-choice activists celebrating the victory on the streets of capital Buenos Aires.
• Hundreds of thousands of illegal abortions are carried out every year in the nation of 44 million, and pro-choice campaigners have long-urged authorities to put an end to dangerous backstreet terminations by legalizing this process.
• The landmark bill in the country of 44 million succeeded although there was strong opposition from Evangelical Christians and traditional Roman Catholics.
• "After so many attempts and years of struggle that cost us blood and lives, today we finally made history," protester Sandra Lujan, a 41-year-old psychologist, said after the vote.
• Human Rights Watch Americas Director Jose Miguel Vivanco passed the decision as a historic step, and hoped it would energize other governments to legalize abortion in Latin America.
• The new legislation will allow voluntary terminations up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, and was approved 38 to 29 with one abstention.
• The vote overturns a similar one in 2018 which -- although also passed the lower house -- ultimately foundered in the Senate by 38 votes to 31.
• Only Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana allow voluntary terminations in South America, which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
• In Argentina, terminations were previously allowed in only two instances: rape, and danger to the mother's life.
LEGISLATE FOR EVERYONE
• The bill was proposed by President Alberto Fernandez and passed the Chamber of Deputies on December 11, despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical Christians.
• "I'm Catholic but I have to legislate for everyone. Every year around 38,000 women are taken to hospital due to (clandestine) abortions and since the restoration of democracy (in 1983) more than 3,000 have died," said Fernandez.
• "The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life," said Ines Blas, a senator from the ruling coalition.
• However, Senator Silvina Garcia Larraburu, again from the ruling coalition, said she would vote for the bill this time despite voting against it in 2018.
LOVE FOR CHILDREN
• Despite measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators had gathered outside parliament ahead of the vote, following the debate on giant screens.
• Pro-choice activists have campaigned for years to change the abortion laws that date from 1921, adopting a green scarf as their symbol.
• Anti-abortion activists, who recently started wearing light blue scarves, expressed sadness after the vote passed.
• Social law changes have always been slow in Argentina: divorce was legalized only in 1987, sex education introduced in 2006, gay marriage approved in 2010 and a gender identity law passed in 2012.
• In Latin America, abortion is only legal in Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana, as well as Mexico City.
• In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, it is banned, and women can be sentenced to jail even for having a miscarriage.
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