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Celebration in Argentina after lawmakers pass bill to legalize abortion

Celebration in Argentina after lawmakers pass bill to legalize abortion
Women celebrate in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday after the lower house of congress passed a bill legalizing abortion. The proposal faces a challenge in the senate, where a similar measure was defeat two years ago. Photo by Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EPA-EFE

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Argentina's lower house of congress narrowly passed legislation Friday to legalize abortion, a key parliamentary step that followed nearly an entire day of contentious debate.

The Chamber of Deputies passed the bill by a vote of 131-117 after 20 hours of debate.

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The bill, if it becomes law, would make it legal to end pregnancies up to 14 weeks -- and Argentina would be just the fourth Latin American country to legalize abortion.

The bill is part of President Alberto Fernandez's social agenda, which leans heavily toward reforms for women's rights.

While the bill faces uncertainty in the Argentine Senate, Fernandez's support lends the abortion-rights movement a voice it did not have under former center-right President Mauricio Macri.

A bill legalizing abortion was narrowly defeated two years ago in Argentina's Senate, which has long been opposed to abortion-rights legislation.

Another factor at play in the debate is that Pope Francis, an Argentina native, spoke out against the bill that failed in 2018.

The new version offers some changes from the old bill, including provisions to allow medical institutions to refer women to another clinic for an abortion. The updated bill also changes protocols in dealing with underage women with no parents.

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Advocates hope the changes will be enough to get the bill passed in the Senate.

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