Argentina Senate votes against legalising abortion

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4

On Thursday, anti-abortion activists and abortion-rights advocates - many wearing green bandanas that have come to symbolize the country's growing women's rights movement - stood outside the National Congress as the Senate debate dragged on for more than 16 hours before finally going to a vote.

The bill would have allowed abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Thousands of pro and anti-abortion protesters in rival colours gathered in heavy rain outside Congress in Buenos Aires as politicians debated the proposal for 15 hours.

The Senate in predominately Roman Catholic Argentina has rejected a law that would have legalized abortion, rebuffing a grass-roots abortion-rights movement. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose administration was against legalizing abortion, voted in favor of the bill.

The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis.

In June, the lower house narrowly passed after a session lasting almost 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside.

Speaking to a delegation of the Forum of Family Associations at the Vatican, Francis denounced today's abortion culture and urged his hearers to accept human life as it comes from the hand of God.

But the Supreme Federal Tribunal recently held an extraordinary session to hear arguments on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Women's rights advocates, however, hope that a more liberal judiciary in Brazil will at least decriminalize abortion to help avoid deaths from botched terminations in a country where hundreds of thousands of women resort to clandestine clinics each year.

Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries that now have broadly legalized abortion.

US -based organizations such as Live Action, Human Defense Initiative and the National Right to Life Committee expressed their opposition to the bill as well.

Backers of the measure said legalizing abortion would save the life of many women who now turn to risky illegal abortions.

Argentine women can still obtain legal abortions, but only in limited cases, like rape or if the health of the mother is in jeopardy. "We have to go to the causes of abortion and not abortion as a solution". But in June, he said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi eugenics programmes.

The move was also condemned by Amnesty International, which said Argentina had squandered an historic opportunity.

"We need to make an effort to resolve this", she said.

"This is just the beginning - our movement will continue till we get the right to abortion", she said. Lay Catholics held rallies and took to social media under the motto "Save them both", referring to the mother and child, while bishops released public statements condemning the bill.

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