Argentina Senate rejects voluntary abortion law

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Worldwide reproductive rights advocates joined Argentinian women in mourning the bill's defeat, but credited the country's pro-choice movement with building momentum toward securing abortion rights in Argentina as well as across Latin America, where only Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and Mexico City allow abortion in early pregnancy.

The bill would have legalized abortion in all circumstances during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The stark reality facing Argentinian women sent thousands of protesters into the streets on Wednesday as the Senate debated the bill for more than 16 hours.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (child murder) will be your ruin".

There were 31 votes in favour - falling short of the 35-vote majority needed for bills to pass - and two abstentions.

After the result was announced, anti-abortion demonstrators clad in blue, which is the colour of the "save both lives" movement, danced and set off fireworks outside the building.

Following Thursday's vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing hard, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.

Ahead of the Senate vote, President Mauricio Macri said he was personally against abortion, but added that the debate itself was "a win for democracy".

Activists estimate that 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983.

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.

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Argentina's abortion rights movement, backed by feminist groups galvanized in recent years to stop violence against women, argued that the bill would end unregulated abortions that government data show as the leading cause of maternal deaths. But despite that, an estimated half a million women have illegal terminations every year.

Worldwide human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina. Abortion is now legal only if the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or if the mother's life is in danger.

"We're not deciding abortion yes or no". But in June, he said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi eugenics programmes.

Hundreds of thousands demonstrated on the day of the vote, with police separating the pro-life and pro-abortion rights campaigns.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said Argentina has a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women. Amnesty International proceeded to publish an ad in the New York Times using the misinformation touted by Rubinstein.

"This is just the beginning - our movement will continue till we get the right to abortion", she said.

Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay permit early-term elective abortions, as does Mexico City.

His sentiments were shared by 21-year-old Camila Sforza, who said she remained hopeful despite the setback.

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