Argentina's president to propose bill to legalize abortion

The president of Argentina announced Sunday he is pushing for legal abortion in the Roman Catholic-majority nation.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernández is set to send a bill to Congress in the next 10 days. In 2018, legalized abortion had strong opposition from religious voters and lacked support from then-president, Mauricio Macri, who was an ally of President Trump, The Guardian reported.

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"Abortion happens, it's a fact," Fernández said in his first annual address to Congress.

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez, left, speaks sitting next to Vice President Cristina Fernandez as he opens the 2020 session of Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez, left, speaks sitting next to Vice President Cristina Fernandez as he opens the 2020 session of Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

“The state must protect its citizens in general and women in particular,” he added. “Society in the 21st century needs to respect the individual choice of its members to freely decide about their bodies.”

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If the bill passes, the country with a population of 45 million will become the largest nation in Latin America to do so, joining Cuba, Uruguay, and Guyana.

Supporters of Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez gather outside Congress after the President arrived to open the 2020 session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

Supporters of Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez gather outside Congress after the President arrived to open the 2020 session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

While abortion rights activists in Argentina celebrated his comments as a "historic" day for women's rights, the Catholic Church stands in stark opposition.

“The culture of death advances,” Monsenor Jorge Eduardo Scheinig, an archbishop, said in a recorded message. “We need to pray so that in Argentina, the yes to life is stronger than death.”

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In 2018, the abortion bill didn't have the backing of the president and was stopped in the Argentine Senate. It remains unclear whether there will be a repeat in the coming days.