Argentina is a step closer to legalising abortion for millions of women after legislation passed through the lower house.
The staunchly Catholic country has tried many times to introduce legal provisions that would grant women and girls access to the procedure, however lawmakers have been faced with huge protests and uproar.
However, it looks like this latest attempt is on track to get through.
The bill was submitted by President Alberto Fernández and there was a whopping 20-hour debate in the lower house. It was eventually approved 131 votes to 117. It will now go to the Senate for approval.
Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, the government’s Women, Gender and Diversity minister, said after the vote: “This is a fundamental step and recognition of a long struggle that women’s movements have been carrying out in our country for years. We are going to continue working so that the voluntary termination of pregnancy becomes law.”
When the vote results came through, there were celebratory scenes in the country.
Argentinians gathered outside and hugged each other when the news was announced, with many people excited they were finally a step closer to having a legal provision for abortion.
Amnesty International’s executive in Argentina Mariela Belski told the Guardian: “I feel really, really excited and happy. It was an amazing night. When the bill was passed, everyone was shouting, celebrating, crying.”
Journalist and campaigner Ingrid Beck added: “This is a victory for the women’s movement that’s been campaigning for this for many, many years. The fact that this bill is sponsored by the government makes all the difference.”
Argentinian health officials say there are around 350,000 illegal abortions conducted in the country every year.
While there are loads of people who are happy, the road to complete victory will be a tough one. A similar bill was approved by the lower house in 2018, however it was blocked by the Senate.
There was a very loud outrage from Pope Francis, who is from Argentina, during the public debate about the bill two years ago.
He said during a speech: “How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenceless budding human life be therapeutic, civil or simply human?
“Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? One cannot do this, it is not right to do away with a human being, albeit small, to solve a problem.”
However, the government who is in power now voted against the bill in 2018 when they were in opposition. It’s hoped their support will mean the bill will go through in the Senate.