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Abortion rights activists protest outside Congress as senators debate the landmark bill on whether to legalize abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images

Senators in Argentina voted early Wednesday to legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy by 38 votes to 29, with one lawmaker abstaining.

Why it matters: The predominantly Catholic country is the largest Latin American nation to vote to legalize elective abortion. President Alberto Fernández has already pledged to sign the bill into law.

  • Argentina is the birthplace of Pope Francis, who has previously voiced opposition to abortion, likening the procedure to hiring a "hitman."
  • The pope weighed into Argentina's debate the day before the vote, "praising a women's group from impoverished neighborhoods for its activism against abortion," the New York Times reports.

Details: Thousands of pro- and anti-abortion protesters waited outside Argentina's Congress as lawmakers debated the measure for some 12 hours.

  • Under the bill, exceptions to the elective 14-week abortion limit will be made in cases of rape and in regards to the health of a pregnant woman.

The big picture: Latin America is known for its socially conservative views on abortion, with Uruguay Guyana and Cuba the only nations in the region to permit abortions upon request.

  • Abortions were previously only allowed in Argentina in order to save a woman's life or in cases of rape or incest. Argentine senators have voted against nine abortion bills over the past 15 years, the Washington Post notes.
  • The Roman Catholic Church's domination in the country is decreasing as a feminist movement continues to rise, the NYT notes.

What to watch: Pro-abortion rights momentum is building in Latin America and Argentina's vote may influence other countries in the region to introduce similar measures, per the Times.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Photo: Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, a Vatican spokesperson announced on Thursday.

The big picture: The Pope has spoken in favor of the vaccine, saying on Sunday that people have an "ethical duty" to get inoculated, CNN reports.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
34 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
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Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.