More than 70 lawmakers in Argentina have introduced a bill to legalize elective abortion, the first time the nation has formally considered debating the issue with multipartisan support. The bill, which was presented in Argentina's Congress on Tuesday by lawmakers across the political spectrum, proposes legalizing abortions in the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy.
Current Argentine law prohibits terminating a pregnancy except in cases of rape or risks to a pregnant person's health; a judge must also grant permission for the procedure. Argentina is a primarily Catholic nation, which has made abortion a prickly topic, BBC reports, but activist groups turned out in droves to support the bill in Buenos Aires. The proposal was further encouraged by Argentina's conservative president, Mauricio Macri, who signaled his willingness to debate legalization despite his personal opposition to abortion.
Argentina is one of several Latin American nations that does not allow elective abortions. Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador ban the procedure in all cases, while Chile passed a law allowing exceptions in cases of rape or health complications in August 2017. The bill cites public health as a reason to expand abortion rights, Reuters reports, emphasizing the health risks involved in illegal abortions.
As the bill was presented, ABC News reports, pro-choice attendees chanted: "Contraceptives to avoid aborting and legal abortion to avoid death!"