Buenos Aires , Dec 30 : Argentina on Wednesday voted to legalise elective abortion, becoming the largest Latin American country to do so.
In a historic political shift in a heavily catholic country, Argentina's Senate approved the historic law change by 38 votes in favour to 29 against with one abstention, NPR reported. "The emotion invades us, the work was a lot and the road to get here was long, but we got there," Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, minister of women, genders and diversity wrote Monday evening before the vote. "We have the opportunity to make history."
The Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Bill permits abortion to take place throughout the initial 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Presently, abortion is only legal in Argentina if the mother's life is jeopardised or if the pregnancy is a result of rape.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who has been vocal about legalising abortion during his presidency, initially proposed the legislation in mid-November.
Argentina is the new name in the list of Latin American and Caribbean countries that have legalised elective abortion. The other countries are Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana.
While a significant majority of countries in the region restrict access unless the mother's life is threatened and some countries outlaw it altogether.
Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, has previously voiced his opposition to the legislation, equating abortion to hiring "a hitman."
Argentina's Ministry of Health has said that in 2018, 35 women died from medical issues arising from having an abortion.
Two years earlier, according to Human Rights Watch, the agency also reported that over 39,000 women and girls were hospitalised due to problems from abortions and miscarriages. Of that total, 5,816 were 15 to 19 years old and 348 were 10 to 14 years old.