Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalise abortion

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Global 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 rejected bill would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy for all women. Opponents of the bill celebrated the decision on the streets outside Congress with fireworks as they waved Argentine flags.

The legalization bill can not be debated again until 2019, although some advocates of removing abortion restrictions have suggested promoting a bill for decriminalization as an alternative, according to Crux.

An activist in favour of the legalisation of abortion reacts outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires.

The issue has bitterly divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Roman Catholic Church against feminist groups and other physicians.

Soon after, anti-abortion president Mauricio Macri told lawmakers this year that they could reconsider the matter. We will continue to stand with women in Argentina. Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, has yet to publicly comment on the law that was rejected yesterday.

Outraged by lawmakers' rejection of a bill that would have legalized abortion Wednesday night, women's rights advocates in Argentina clashed with police, who wore riot gear and sprayed tear gas at protesters.

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The Health Ministry estimated in 2016 that as many as half a million clandestine abortions are performed in the country each year, causing the deaths of dozens of women.

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

Will Argentina legalize abortion?

Abortion has always been illegal in Argentina: Currently, if a woman is found to have undergone the procedure (in instances other than rape or if the mother's life is in danger), she can be jailed for up to four years. "Children should be accepted as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick", he said. In June, however, he likened abortions meant to prevent birth defects to the Nazi eugenics program.

Rosangela Talib, a coordinator for Catholics for Choice, a leading advocate in Brazil for reproductive rights, said the defeat in Argentina will not deter the fight to decriminalize abortion.

The move was also condemned by Amnesty International, which said Argentina had squandered an historic opportunity. Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned. Feminists and other groups led even larger demonstrations in support of the measure, often wearing green that symbolizes the pro-abortion movement, or red cloaks and white bonnets like the characters from the novel-turned-TV series "The Handmaid's Tale".

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

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