Argentina's Senate Rejects Legalizing Abortion, Dashing Hopes Of Rights Advocates

Anti-abortion activists carry a

"The senators who voted against this or abstained have therefore chose to agree on a system which forces women, girls and others who can become pregnant to undergo clandestine and unsafe abortions", said Mariela Belski, Executive Director of Amnesty International Argentina. "We won because we looked at each other eye-to-eye and we realized how strong we are, and that abortion will eventually be legal".

The question reached the Argentine Senate for the first time in history after the Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house, approved the measure in June. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead.

According to activists who supported the proposal, the Catholic Church is responsible for the outcome of the vote. "Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the State".

Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, also largely stayed on the sidelines, except for a strong denunciation of abortion in June.

Around an hour after the vote most people had left the streets around Congress, leaving them strewn with litter. These centers provide food, medical assistance, psychological counseling, and legal advice to pregnant mothers in difficulty.

Argentina's Senate narrowly rejected a bill legalizing abortion on Thursday.

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Various charities have estimated that 500,000 illegal, secret abortions are carried out every year in Argentina, resulting in around 100 deaths.

The proposed bill was met with contentious debate in Argentina; although protests in support of its passage broke out worldwide on Wednesday night, anti-abortion activists also held a rally outside the country's Congress and the Catholic Church held a "Mass for Life" vigil in Buenos Aires.

She said it was a "sad day. not only because of the way the vote went but the way the campaign for and against went".

The demonstrations were largely peaceful, but after the vote, small groups of protesters clashed with police, throwing firebombs and setting up flaming barricades.

In addition to legalizing the procedure within 14 weeks of conception, the bill would have allowed girls 13 years of age and older to get an abortion.

Mariela Belski, Argentina's Amnesty International director, told The Guardian: "A survey we did this year showed 60% support for an abortion law".

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"We're not deciding abortion yes or now".

Maria Jose Benitez, a student who backed the campaign against legalization, said government could do more to help women financially and psychologically during pregnancy.

Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay permit early-term elective abortions, as does Mexico City. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose administration was against legalizing abortion, voted in favor of the bill.

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.

The movement Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, was launched in the country in recent years to fight violence against women.

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