Voters in Uruguay are deciding whether to hold a referendum to repeal the most liberal national abortion law in South America

The measure that was narrowly passed last October authorized elective abortions in the first three months of pregnancy.

If 25 percent of Uruguay's electorate votes on Sunday, officials would have 120 days to set a date for a binding referendum on whether to uphold or repeal the abortion law.

Passage of the law was widely seen as a landmark for a region in which many countries outlaw abortion in all circumstances. 

Cuba is the only other country in the region where women have access to first-trimester abortions. Colombia allows abortion when there is proof of fetal malformation. Mexico City legalized first-trimester abortions and Argentina’s Supreme Court recently approved a freed sex slave’s request to have the procedure.

The Uruguay law decriminalizes abortions, but requires women to justify themselves before a panel of experts. Women would then have to wait five days before receiving confirmation on whether they can go ahead with the procedure or not. Late-term abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is deformed would also be decriminalized.

Panel members would include at least three professionals -a gynecologist, a psychologist and a social worker.

According to The Guardian, Uruguay’s measure would allow women to have a legal abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In the case of rape, abortions would be legal during the first 14 weeks.

“It’s important that the woman who decides to have an abortion attend this meeting (with the panel of experts), where she will be informed about all the options, including alternatives that she is free to choose from,” said Iván Posada, the law’s writer, to the UK-based website.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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