Argentina Becomes the Largest Nation in Latin America to Legalize Abortion

Jen Juneau
·3 min read

Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images Pro-choice demonstrators wait for the result of vote on Dec. 30, 2020, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina has become the largest nation in Latin America to legalize abortion.

On Wednesday, the South American nation reached the milestone in women's reproductive rights after the Argentine Senate voted 38 to 29 in favor of the measure, making the country the fourth in Latin America to legalize abortion after Uruguay, Cuba and Guyana, according to multiple outlets.

Speaking with The New York Times, Senator Lucila Crexell (who abstained from the vote two years ago) said she "didn't change [her] way of thinking about abortion — rather, "I changed my focus on how I think the issue should be approached."

"It isn't about feminism or religion," Crexell noted. "Clandestine abortion is a silent figure that kills, harms and writes very sad stories."

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Mariano Gabriel Sanchez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Argentina's Senate session addressing legalization of voluntary abortion

EMILIANO LASALVIA/AFP via Getty Images Pro-choice activists celebrate after Senate approves bill to legalize abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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The decision makes it legal for women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy for any reason up to 14 weeks, with exceptions after that timeframe when the mother's health is at stake or in cases of rape.

Tamara Taraciuk Broner, the Americas deputy director for Human Rights Watch, told the Times that the passing of the bill into law "is a gigantic victory that protects fundamental rights and will inspire change in Latin America."

Though, Broner also warned, "It's predictable, however, that this will also mobilize pro-life groups" — many of whom were gathered outside the capital Buenos Aires' Congress building early Wednesday morning alongside the pro-choice demonstrators as the decision was announced, according to the BBC.

Before Wednesday, abortions were only allowed in Argentina when the mother's health was at risk or in cases of rape, as is still the case in many other Latin American countries. In four countries within the region — Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua — abortion is completely illegal.

Mario De Fina/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Pro-choice activists celebrate after Senate approves bill to legalize abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Supporters took to Twitter to celebrate the landslide 2020 decision that narrowly went the other way two years ago, with one woman writing, "Kudos to Argentina! There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to abortion. In the end the decision should rest w the woman and her counsel. Family affairs is not the bailiwick of government laws."

"On December 30, at 4:11 am we made history. LEGAL, SAFE AND FREE ABORTION is now a reality in Argentina, we did it," another wrote.

A third user shared an emotional video of the exact moment the decision was announced outside Congress, where demonstrators waited with bated breath before breaking out into cheers and jumping up and down.

"Hundreds of women in argentina celebrating after finding out the law for legal, safe and free abortion had been approved. today we made history," she wrote.