On Thursday, Argentina's lower legislative body passed a bill to legalize early term abortions, the Guardian reports. The bill, which would allow abortion during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy, passed in a close vote of 129 to 125.
Argentina's president has promised to sign the provision into law if it passes both legislative bodies, despite his personal opposition to the bill. The bill is heading to the Senate, where the supporters face a more difficult battle than in the lower house, according to local activist group Economía Feminista, which has been tracking vote promises from representatives.
Currently, Argentina's abortion laws are some of the strictest in the world. If the bill were to become a law, Argentina would only be the third Latin American country with legalized abortion, according to the Guardian.
Amid the national debate leading up to the vote on the bill, native Argentinian Pope Francis published an open letter asking for the "defense of life and justice," El Universo reports, though he did not explicitly mention the bill.
A 2010 Pew report indicated that, although 77 percent of Argentinians are Catholic, only 33 percent considered religion as very important in their lives.