Chile's Congress has eased a strict ban on abortion in effect since the final days of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship nearly three decades ago.
The measure, which passed with a 22-13 vote, allows abortion in cases of rape, if the mother's life is at risk or if the foetus presents a deadly birth defect.
It now awaits a ruling by the Constitutional Court at the request of the opposition. Until now, the South American country has been part of a small group of socially conservative nations that barred abortion under all circumstances -- including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Haiti, Malta, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Senegal.
Under current law, abortion is punishable by up to five years in prison. Until the Pinochet-era change, abortion already was legal in Chile for five decades -- in case of danger to the mother's life or an unviable foetus