Argentina Senate votes against legalising abortion

Argentina Senate votes against legalising abortion

Pro-choice activists gather around a bonfire to keep warm as celebratory fireworks go off in the distance from a gathering of pro-life activists, as they all wait outside Congress for lawmakers to vote on an abortion bill in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.

Anti-abortion supporters in Argentina celebrated on Wednesday night after the Senate rejected a bill that would have legalised terminations in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

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.

The issue has bitterly divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Roman Catholic Church against feminist groups and other physicians. By Thursday morning, the Senate voted 38 to 31 against the bill.

In Argentina, abortion is only allowed in cases of rape and risks to a woman's health.

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For long hours, thousands of supporters wearing green handkerchiefs that represent the effort to legalize abortion and opponents of the measure wearing light blue, braved the heavy rain and cold temperatures in Argentina's winter to watch the debate on large screens set up outside Congress. Macri said he was personally against abortion, but would sign the bill if it passed.

Despite false warnings to the contrary, no woman or medical professional is in prison for practicing abortion in Argentina, despite its illegal status. By rejecting legal abortion they missed a historic chance to be leaders on human rights.

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In 2016, the organization sent 32 activists from Argentina and other nations to participate in the 60th UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Amnesty International, a London-based human rights group, ran a full-page advertisement in the international edition of the New York Times on Tuesday depicting a clothes hanger to symbolize clandestine, unsafe abortions.

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.

Global human rights and women's groups have been closely following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

Celia Szusterman, trustee of the United Kingdom board of Pro-Mujer and director of the Latin America programme at the Institute for Statecraft, told CNN that the vote was "a step backward for women's rights and women's health".

Rallies took place around the world in front of Argentine diplomatic missions, mainly in support of the bill.

The proposal can not be brought up for debate until next year, but Argentina's Senate is set to discuss abortion again late this month when it considers reforms to the country's penal code, reported La Nación. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead.

Small groups rallied in other countries across the region to voice support for the Argentine abortion measure, including in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru.

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