- - Thursday, June 14, 2018

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — In the homeland of Pope Francis, Argentine lawmakers on Thursday took a giant step toward legalizing abortions, potentially setting a historic precedent for Latin America, where the procedure is still widely outlawed.

After almost 23 hours of nonstop and often intense debate, the lower house of Congress voted 129-125 to let women end pregnancies until the 14th week with only minimal requirements. The bill now heads to the Senate. If approved there, President Mauricio has promised to sign the measure into law.

Supporters of legalization, who had camped out throughout a frigid Buenos Aires night outside the congressional palace, erupted in cheers and chants, waving the green handkerchiefs that had become a near-ubiquitous symbol for their cause.

And on their placards, the now-familiar motto “Get your rosaries out of our ovaries” pointed fingers at the country’s influential Catholic Church, which had vehemently opposed the bill in what critics suspected was a behind-the-scenes pressure campaign.

On the other side of the square, meanwhile, anti-abortion protesters were trying to console each other amid visible resignation.

“Don’t worry, people, we’ll keep working,” one activist was overheard trying to encourage his side. “This isn’t over yet.”

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