A bill that would legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was narrowly approved Thursday by the lower house of Argentina's congress.
The tight 129 to 125 vote came after a marathon debate over the measure.
The legislation is a sharp departure from Argentina's current law, which only allows abortion in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health.
Some lawmakers were swayed by the arguments of women's rights activists who framed the debate as a health issue.
"We are dealing with a public health issue that cannot be addressed with blinders, nor with morals and ethics and much less religion," Reuters quoted opposition congresswoman Mayra Mendoza. "This is also a matter of social justice."
Likewise, Axel Kicillof of the Justicialist Party pleaded with his colleagues to "give women the right to decide over their bodies," the BBC reports.
But Mario Horacio Arce of the Radical Civic Union stood his ground, insisting the measure is a clear violation of Argentina's constitution, which protects life at any stage.
"The national constitution does not distinguish between different phases of pregnancy; it protects life from the moment of conception," he said.
"We're building a law on innocent blood," he said as he urged his fellow lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church has campaigned vigorously against the legislation, with Pope Francis sending a letter to Argentine bishops calling on them to "defend life and justice."
The measure is now on its way to the Senate. Although President Mauricio Macri is adamantly opposed to the bill, he says he will sign it if it's approved.