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Argentina Senate votes against legalizing abortion

09 August 2018

Argentina's Senate voted against legalizing elective abortion in the early hours of Thursday morning, dashing the hopes of pro-abortion rights advocates in the predominantly Catholic country, homeland of Pope Francis.

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.

Many women in Argentina use misoprostol to end first-trimester pregnancies.

But the contentious issue has divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Catholic Church against feminist groups and physicians.

After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour.

Many demonstrators braved a heavy rain and the cold of the Argentine winter waiting outside the Congress building.

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In mid-June, Argentina's lower house voted in favor of the bill by just 129 to 125, thanks in part to the anti-abortion President Mauricio Macri's insistence on pushing the bill through the legislature.

Now abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother's health is in danger.

Daiana Anadon, leader of the feminist group Wave, said she and hundreds of other women would stay "until the final moment because we believe the power of the street will move the situation".

Despite false warnings to the contrary, no woman or medical professional is in prison for practicing abortion in Argentina, despite its illegal status.

"Let's recognize that we're facing a public health tragedy because 3,030 women who have died is a tragedy", said Magdalena Odarda, a senator for Rio Negro province.

An abortion-rights activist reacts outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires, on Thursday to news that the Senate voted to reject a bill that would have legalized abortion.

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Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said that Argentina had a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women. Amnesty International has told Argentine legislators that "the world is watching".

In Brazil, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether current law - which allows terminating pregnancies only in cases of rape, fetal deformation or when the mother's life is in danger - is unconstitutional. Chile had been the last country in South America to ban abortion in all cases, though several nations in Central America still have absolute prohibitions.

In 2016, released documents from Open Society Foundations (OSF) revealing Soros funding of the abortion front group International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) through his Women's Rights Program (WRP), which has been working in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

It is also legal in Mexico City.

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

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Argentina Senate votes against legalizing abortion