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Pope Francis' native country moves closer to legalising abortion

The Pope's native country has passed a bill that could see abortion legalised.

In a 20-hour long session, lawmakers in Argentina approved the bill by 131 to 117 votes with six abstentions. The legislation will now have to be ratified by the country´s senate in a debate expected to take place before the end of the year.

The bill allows for voluntary abortion to be carried out up to the 14th week of pregnancy for girls aged 13 and over, without the need for parental consent. Under current legislation, abortion is only permitted in the case of rape or if it represents a risk to the mother's health.

If approved by the senate, Argentina could become the first major Latin American country to legalise voluntary abortion. Currently, only Cuba and Uruguay have legalised it. 

Legalising abortion was part of the President´s manifesto in the 2019 general elections arguing that it would help curb the number of deaths due to illegal abortion.  

The latest data available published by the Health Minister show that, in 2017, 40 women died due to abortion both natural and induced, but this figure is disputed by pro-abortion campaigners. 

Last month, Pope Francis directly addressed the issue in a handwritten letter. He wrote: "Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it fair to hire a hitman to solve a problem?". 

 Vatican News reported he was replying to a group of women from towns in Buenos Aires where he used to minister who had initially asked him for his support. 

"They truly are women who know what this life is. Please, tell them from my part that I admire their work and their witness; that I thank them from the heart what they do and to carry on," Pope Francis continued. 

In 2018 another attempt to legalise abortion was rejected by the senate after a 15-hour debate. It was the first time in 12 years that the matter had been discussed in the senate. 

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