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Argentina Senate approves bill legalizing abortion

Argentina Senate approves bill legalizing abortion
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Argentina's Senate early Wednesday voted to approve a bill legalizing free abortion services in the country before 14 weeks of the pregnancy, a landmark move that greatly expands access to the service in the country.

The BBC reported that the Senate voted 38-29 early Wednesday morning to approve a bill previously approved by the Chamber of Deputies. It wasn't clear if the country's president, Alberto Fernandez, signed the bill immediately, but Fernandez reacted to its passage on Twitter, writing: "Safe, legal and free abortion is law."

"Today we are a better society that expands rights to women and guarantees public health," he continued.

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Abortion services had previously only been accessible in Argentina in cases of rape and when the mother's life was endangered by the pregnancy. Access to the service is heavily restricted across much of South and Central America due to the prevalent influence of the Catholic Church, which opposes the practice.

Supporters of the bill, including officials with international rights groups, celebrated the news in the streets of Buenos Aires, according to the BBC, and on Twitter.

"Although there will certainly be resistance, I think it's fair to predict that, as it occurred when Argentina legalized same sex marriage in 2010, this new law could have a domino effect in the region," tweeted José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division, who added in a second tweet: "Legalizing abortion in Argentina is a gigantic victory that protects fundamental rights and will inspire change in Latin America."

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