Argentine Senate has passed the bill to legalise abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy, becoming the fourth country in Latin America to legalise the practice.
Argentina on Wednesday became one of only a handful of South American nations to legalize abortion, after hours of debate in the Senate.
Senators voted in favour of the bill after a marathon session with 38 in favour, 29 against and one abstention.
Until now, abortions were only permitted in cases of rape or when the mother’s health was at risk.
Hundreds of thousands of illegal abortions are carried out every year in the nation of 44 million, and pro-choice campaigners have long-urged authorities to put an end to dangerous backstreet terminations by legalizing the process.
“It becomes law,” said Senate president Cristina Kirchner, after more than twelve hours of debate.
It legalizes voluntary abortions at any stage up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Ahead of the vote, pro-choice and anti-abortion demonstrators had gathered outside parliament despite coronavirus fears.
“This fight was born in the streets,” Silvia Saravia, a pro-choice activist, told AFP.
The vote overturns a similar one in 2018 which, although also passed the lower house, ultimately foundered in the Senate by 38 votes to 31.
South America has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.
In Argentina, terminations were allowed in only two instances: rape, and danger to the mother’s life.
The bill was proposed by President Alberto Fernandez and passed the Chamber of Deputies on December 11, despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical Christians.
“I’m Catholic but I have to legislate for everyone. Every year around 38,000 women are taken to hospital due to (clandestine) abortions and since the restoration of democracy (in 1983) more than 3,000 have died,” said Fernandez.
“The interruption of a pregnancy is a tragedy. It abruptly ends another developing life,” said Ines Blas, a senator from the ruling coalition.
However, Senator Silvina Garcia Larraburu, again from the ruling coalition, said she would vote for the bill this time despite voting against it in 2018.
Such changes have always been slow in Argentina: divorce was legalized only in 1987, sex education introduced in 2006, gay marriage approved in 2010 and a gender identity law passed in 2012.
In Latin America, abortion is only legal in Cuba, Uruguay and Guyana, as well as Mexico City.
In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, it is banned, and women can be sentenced to jail even for having a miscarriage.