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Argentina lower house passes bill that would legalize abortion

Argentina lower house passes bill that would legalize abortion
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Argentina’s lower house of Congress passed a bill on Friday that would legalize elective abortions.

The bill, which passed on a 131-117 vote, would legalize elective abortions to the 14th week of pregnancy, according to The Associated Press. It passed after a long debate on the measure that lasted from Thursday into early Friday morning.

Under the bill, abortions after the 14th week of pregnancy would be allowed if the pregnancy is the result of rape or endangers the person carrying the fetus, according to the AP.

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Those under the age of 16 will be allowed to exercise “their rights through their legal representatives” and can seek “legal assistance” in instances of “conflicts of interests." 

Last-minute changes made to the bill would also allow private clinics to refrain from providing abortions if all medical workers in the clinic oppose the procedure, AP notes. However, those clinics would have to refer women to another facility that performs abortions.

Argentina currently allows abortions only in cases of rape or if the pregnancy poses health risks, according to The New York Times. However, even in those cases, doctors are often hesitant to provide abortions due to fear of legal consequences.  

Many women have died from clandestine abortion procedures for fear of prosecution. 

Abortion advocates who sought to decriminalize the practice were gathered outside Congress wearing green masks — a color that has become associated with the movement. Following the vote, the group erupted in cheers, according to the AP.

The opposition group, dressed in the country flag's light blue, also gathered outside the building holding prayers while the debate on the bill took place. 

The bill still has to pass through Argentina’s Senate, according to the Times. If passed, Argentina would be the fourth Latin American nation to legalize the procedure.