Uruguay Close to Legalizing Abortion

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Uruguay could soon become the second Latin American country to legalize abortion.

Legislators in the Chamber of Deputies decided just before midnight Tuesday to narrowly approve an updated abortion bill by a 50-49 vote. Now, the Senate will take up the issue.

The new legislation would give women the right to a legal abortion during the first trimester and also decriminalizes late-term abortions if the mother's life is at risk, or if the fetus would not survive after birth.

President Jose Mujica said he would allow the measure to become law if the Senate approves the changes, which are expected to pass.

The changes to the legislation include a requirement that women seeking abortions justify their request before a panel of at least three professionals: a gynecologist, psychologist and social worker.

Women will also be required to get advice on abortion alternatives and wait five days to "reflect" on the consequences of the procedure.

Most Latin Americans are Catholic and strongly oppose abortion.

Cuba is the only other country in the region to allow abortions during the first trimester.

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