Argentina’s Congress took its first, historic step toward legalizing abortion on Thursday, when the lower house of Congress approved, by a narrow margin, a bill that would permit women to obtain a legal abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The New York Times reports that the debate in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower congressional house), ensued for 22 hours, during which the outcome of the vote was still very much uncertain. Opponents of the measure, in fact, still had a small lead less than a day ago, but by Thursday morning a few representatives had decided to change their position in favor of the bill.
If the Senate, Argentina’s upper congressional chamber, were to vote in favor of the bill as well, then Argentina would become Latin America’s most populous country to legalize abortion, according to the Times. Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, has voiced opposition to the bill, but says he will sign it if passed by Congress.
Argentina currently has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, disallowing the procedure except in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape, or when continuing the pregnancy puts the woman’s life in danger. The Guardian reports that the vote “would have been unthinkable even a year ago” and is due in large part to a change in public opinion incited by grassroots feminist activism.