MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (CNS) — After more than nine hours of deliberations, Uruguay's Chamber of Deputies approved legislation that would legalize abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
While the debate heated up inside the country's Congress Sept. 26, hundreds braved the cold weather outside to demonstrate for and against the legislation.
The 50-49 vote changed the Senate bill approved at the end of 2011 and will have to go back to the upper house for approval. According to political analysts, however, the bill should pass easily.
To get an abortion, a woman would need to be interviewed by at least three health professionals and wait at a minimum of five days before confirming her decision.
President Jose Mujica has publicly stated he will not veto the bill.
Representative Pablo Abdala of the National Party told Uruguayan media outlets he would push for a popular referendum on the issue if Mujica does not veto the bill.
If the legislation is approved, Uruguay would become the second Latin American country, after Cuba, to decriminalize abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Argentina allows for abortions in case of rape. Colombia and Brazil allow for the procedure if the woman has been raped or there is the risk of death for the mother. In Brazil, women may also abort if the fetus is found to have a deformed brain.
Uruguayan media reported that, last year, the Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate legislators who voted in favor of the bill.
Campaigns to legalize abortion in Uruguay were defeated on at least eight other occasions since the late 1970s.
In 2008, a bill passed through Congress but was vetoed by then-President Tabare Vazquez.