Senate votes against abortion

Argentina's abortion campaigners braced for crucial vote

Argentina's Senate rejected a bill that would have legalised elective abortion for pregnancies of up to 14 weeks.

Senators voted 38-31 against the measure early August 9 following a 15-hour debate.

More than 75 percent of Argentines still consider themselves Catholic, but the opposition to the abortion bill also came from Protestant and evangelical congregations, prompting the bishops' conference to acknowledge that "ecumenical dialogue and inter-religious dialogue has grown at this time of joining forces to protect life".

Earlier in the day, scores of buses had brought people from around the country into Buenos Aires for the competing rallies outside Congress.

But at the other end of the square, tears streamed down the faces of pro-abortion advocates, with many wearing the green scarves that symbolize their cause. "We were out in huge numbers and showed that we will defend the two lives, no matter the cost".

The vote in Argentina came almost two months after Argentina's Chamber of Deputies narrowly approved the measure and President Mauricio Macri said that despite his personal opposition to abortion, he was prepared to sign it.

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.

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

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"The president giving a green light to this debate, despite his personal position, did a lot in allowing this discussion to move forward", Tamara Taraciuk Broner, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, told CNN. The proposal was the subject of mass protests and the Aborto Legal Ya campaign, with supporters carrying signs on Wednesday displaying coat hangers and the word "Adios"-a reference to unsafe methods that have been used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies".

What's next? The bill may be amended by the Senate and sent back to the lower house, but lawmakers must wait a year to resubmit the legislation. But, hey, who's to say she wouldn't've been a supporter of reproductive rights?

The Senate session spilled over into Thursday as the debate stretched past 12 hours.

Senators from Argentina's northern regions led the charge against legalizing voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it. Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, has yet to publicly comment on the law that was rejected yesterday.

"It will happen because that's the world - to increase rights and this is one of the fundamental rights that is still not available to women in Latin America", said Szusterman.

The mostly-Catholic country is also home to Pope Francis, who has called abortion the "white glove" equivalent of Nazi eugenics programs.

Supporters of the bill argued it would save lives, and the run-up to the vote sparked months of passionate debate and protest in the Catholic country.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, the anger and upset was palpable as pro-legalisation demonstrators wept as they heard the news that senate had voted against the bill.

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