BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (ChurchMilitant.com) - Argentina may be on the verge of legalizing abortion on demand, the lower house approving a bill that would decriminalize abortion into the second trimester.
Argentina's Chamber of Deputies voted on the abortion bill on Thursday. After a session lasting almost 23 hours, the bill narrowly passed by a vote of 129 to 125, with one abstention.
Currently, Argentina's law prohibits abortion except in cases of rape and when the pregnancy is deemed a threat to the mother's health. But the new bill, if passed into law, would broadly permit abortion up to 14 weeks after gestation. It would also allow underaged girls to get abortions without parental consent.
The Argentine Bishops' Conference commented on the vote, "As Argentinians, this decision pains us."
The bishops encouraged a renewal of pro-life efforts, instructing that "the sorrow over forgetting and excluding the innocents must be transformed into strength and hope, to continue fighting for the dignity of every human life."
Pro-abortion activists gathered en masse outside the congressional palace to await the voting results. When the results were announced, the pro-abortion crowd broke into exuberant jumping, cheering and festive music — with some people even crying tears of joy.
The crowd chanted, "Legal abortion in the hospital!"
The abortion activists had matching scarves, handkerchiefs and flags in bright green. The color had become synonymous in Argentina with the campaign to legalize the killing of unborn children.
Some carried signs with the slogan, "Get your rosaries off of our ovaries."
The scene in Buenos Aires was reminiscent of the pro-abortion celebrations in Ireland last month, when the results were announced for a popular vote that shot down the right to life of the unborn.
Argentine pro-life organization Unidad Provida called the House's vote "lamentable," adding, "The Argentine Senate will have the opportunity to correct this dangerous threat to human rights and to honor the will of the nation's people."
If the Argentine Senate (its upper house) also passes the abortion bill, it will likely go into law. Even though center-right President Mauricio Macri has the power to veto, he has promised not to veto this bill if it passes both houses of Congress.
In the midst of the ongoing debate in Argentina about abortion, Pope Francis — an Argentinian himself — issued a letter in March pleading with the people of his country to act "in the defense of life and justice" by protecting the helpless unborn.
Mainstream news outlets have been saying that decriminalized abortion in Argentina could pave the way for the rest of Latin America — where many countries still have moderately pro-life laws on the books.