Uruguay's former President Pepe Mujica has voiced his support for the campaign to legalize abortion in Argentina, legislation approved by Uruguay's parliament during his own administration.
Addressing the Uruguayan Senate in Montevideo, Mujica said it was critical that "men remain silent" during the debate, which concerns women and their right to control their own bodies.
Legalizing the practice, which as many as 520,000 women every year are forced to seek in illegal and unsafe conditions, would reduce the number of women who die from botched abortions, he said.
"Poor women, isolated and alone, have to face situations that have no way out and have a double punishment: a punishment of class and another for being women. The way to avoid it is to help and not leave the woman alone when she has made that decision.
"By giving them resources, many times they go back on their decision, but what is clear is that women are not lost and there should be a minimum for all, not only for those who have money. No woman likes to go through the trauma of having to have an abortion."
A bill that would decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and in cases where the infant would not survive after birth was passed by the lower house Chamber of Deputies in June.
The upper house Senate began debating it early July, and a final debate on the bill in the staunchly Catholic homeland of Pope Francis is due to be held on August 8.
In most of Latin America, abortion is permitted in cases of rape, a threat to the life of the mother or if the fetus is disabled. Only in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – all in Central America – does abortion remain totally illegal.