There’s been a victory in Argentina’s long, bitter debate over abortion: early Friday morning, after debating for 20 hours, Argentinian Parliament’s lower house voted in favor of a bill that brings the country closer to legalizing abortion. (If they do so, Argentina will become the largest country in South America to legalize the procedure, and instrumentally influential in the region.) According to the BBC, the law proposed by President Alberto Fernández, which passed 131-117, stipulates that voluntary abortions could be carried out up to the 14th week of pregnancy, the end of the first trimester. As it exists now, people in Argentina can only obtain legal abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person, and they’re extremely hard to receive in the Roman Catholic country.
In November, Argentine Health Minister Ginés González García said that over 3,000 women have died in Argentina as a result of clandestine abortion procedures in the last 40 years. The government estimates that 38,000 women have been hospitalized with complications from abortions performed secretively or at home. According to The Guardian, 73 women, doctors, and nurses have been arrested or gone to prison for performing illegal abortions since 2012.
The bill still has to pass in the Argentine Senate to become law, and it’s crucial that it does: as The Guardian points out, in 2016-2018, 7,000 girls ages 10 to 14 delivered babies in Argentina, frequently after rape, according to a recent report by Argentina’s Access to Safe Abortion Network. But today, Argentines are celebrating as the country moves closer to a pro-choice future.