Why Argentinian Senate voted against legal abortion

Argentina's abortion campaigners braced for crucial vote

Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours, from Wednesday into Thursday, then voted 31 in favor to 38 against.

Opponents, meanwhile, insisted life begins at conception and complained the bill could force doctors to perform the procedure even when they believe it is hazardous.

When the result was told to the demonstrators - who were separated by police and riot fences - the pro-life camp set off fireworks in celebration, and the pro-choice side threw rocks and lit fires in protest. "We were out in huge numbers and showed that we will defend the two lives, no matter the cost".

Their efforts gained new impetus when President Mauricio Macri - who opposes abortion - called on congress to consider a vote on it, and it narrowly passed in the lower house. Speaking with the conservative daily La Nación, Michetti said she would like to see a return to an outright abortion ban in all cases - something Argentina has not seen since 1921, when it adopted the law's exceptions.

Currently, abortion is allowed in Argentina in only three cases, similar to most of Latin America: rape, a threat to the mother's life or if the foetus is disabled. "This is not over", Natalia Carol, a supporter of the bill, told Reuters. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait a year to resubmit legislation. 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".

Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said Argentina had a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women.

However, activists also say that the fact that the bill was even debated in the first place was a "victory" of sorts.

As senators debated the bill into the early hours of Thursday morning, pro-abortion rights activists rallied outside Congress chanting "legal abortion at the hospital" while the Catholic Church held a "Mass for Life" in the capital Buenos Aires.

Despite the setback, campaigners still believe that Argentina will have legalise abortion eventually. Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, has yet to publicly comment on the law that was rejected yesterday.

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

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

While abortion-rights campaigners seemed to have a chance of success a few weeks ago, leaders of the Catholic Church spoke out against abortion, leading to senators from conservative provinces to vote against it, reported The New York Times.

Pope Francis this year denounced abortion as the "white glove" equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families "to accept the children that God gives them". Green bandanas - now a symbol of the abortion rights movement - have been spotted in Brazil, where the country's supreme court is considering loosening abortion restrictions.

In testimony before Congress, Duro emphasized that "legal abortion also kills", adding that it doesn't solve maternal mortality.

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