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A huge papier-mâché figure representing a baby in gestation was part of an Argentina pro-life event in 2019.Fernando de la Orden

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, December 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The lower house of the Argentinian Congress voted to legalize abortion in the fourteenth week of pregnancy Friday, setting the stage for a bitter confrontation in the nation’s Senate.

The bill, which declares that “[w]omen and those with other gender identities who are able to get pregnant have the right to decide to terminate a pregnancy within 14 weeks of gestation,” passed 131-117, with six abstensions, Reuters reports.

The vote follows intense debate between pro-life Argentines adorned in blue, who flooded the streets in more than 500 cities last month in protest, and pro-abortion activists, who wear the green scarves that have come to symbolize the movement and have the support of international organizations such as Amnesty International.

“This is a fundamental step and recognition of a long struggle that women’s movements have been carrying out in our country for years,” said Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, the government’s Women, Gender and Diversity minister. “We are going to continue working so that the voluntary termination of pregnancy becomes law.”

“They don’t want to show what an abortion is,” responded Mariana Ledger, a pro-life demonstrator carrying a cross and a dummy of an aborted baby. “This is it, and they don’t want to show it. They are hiding the truth, we are not foolish people.”

The pro-abortion measure, which has the support of President Alberto Fernández, now moves on to the Argentinian Senate, where the vote is expected to be close. Numerous prior attempts to legalize abortion have died in the Senate over the past several years.

Advocates of repealing the country’s pro-life protections argue that they fail to prevent half a million abortions a year, and have only made illegal abortions the country’s leading cause of maternal death. 

Americans United for Life (AUL) disputed such claims in a 2012 report on the state of abortion in Latin America. Citing statistics from Argentina’s National Ministry of Health, it found that illegal abortions represent a small percentage of maternal deaths, 74 out of 306 in 2007.

Further, the report quoted the World Health Organization as acknowledging that “hospital structure” was the “most important variable” to determining maternal deaths. “The availability of essential obstetric care, active emergencies and experts” must be addressed to save women’s lives, AUL concluded, rather than legalizing abortion.

“The polls say that 60% of Argentines do not approve of abortion,” pro-life José Carmuega tells LifeSiteNews’s Jonathon Van Maren. “The Catholic Church, the Evangelical and civil organizations are united to stop the law, and … the pro-life community will continue to grow on a continental level.”