Argentina's Senate rejects proposed bill to legalize abortion

An aerial view of a protest against abortion legalization organized by the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Argentina

Senate lawmakers voted 38 to 31 against the measure, which would have allowed abortion for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Opponents of the bill celebrated the decision on the streets outside Congress with fireworks as they waved Argentine flags. "We celebrate democracy, federalism and the two lives, the woman's life and the life of the unborn child".

The bill went to the Senate after being approved with 129 votes in the lower chamber of Congress on June 14, after legislators heard 770 experts and activists during five months.

In the Senate it is widely expected to fall short of the votes needed to pass, with 37 of the 72 senators said to be ready to say no despite a massive social campaign to have it adopted.

Current Argentine law only permits abortions if the mother's life is at risk, or in cases of rape. And the bill lost momentum over the weekend when an opposition senator withdrew her support.

However, Celia Szusterman, director of the Latin America programme at the London-based Institute for Statecraft, told CNN that is was "a step backward for women's rights and women's health".

A legalization bill can not be debated again until next year, but Macri's government is expected to include a provision to decriminalize abortion when it introduces legislation later this month for overhauling the penal code. 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 risky methods that have been used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies".

Activists say they'll keep pushing the bill, in the hope that it passes one day soon.

"The right to life is about to become the weakest of rights", said Fiad.




Thousands of pro and anti-abortion protesters in rival colours gathered in heavy rain outside Congress in Buenos Aires as politicians debated the proposal for 15 hours.

A small number of disturbances were reported with some pro-abortion campaigners starting fires and throwing stones at police.

Meanwhile, at the city's Metropolitan Cathedral, a "mass for life" was held in support of keeping laws unchanged.

In recent weeks the so-called "green wave" demonstrations have spread outside of Argentina too.

"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.

Abortion rights supporters wore green scarves while anti-abortion activists donned baby blue.

Legalizing abortion is a particularly contentious issue in the predominantly Catholic region, as the Catholic Church says life begins at conception.

Supporters of the bill rallied across the region Wednesday, in Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Peru, as well as across the Atlantic, in Spain. George Soros has also been a major player in the financing of pro-abortion lobbyists through his Open Society foundations. The dystopian novel's world of absolute female subjugation partly owes its inspiration to Argentina's past, according to author Margaret Atwood, who referred to the tens of thousands of forced disappearances carried out by the country's former military junta.

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