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Argentina's senate rejects abortion bill
11 August 2018, 10:05 | Darnell Patrick
Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4
IVAN PISARENKO AFP
The bill had sought to legalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and would have seen Argentina join Uruguay and Cuba as the only countries in Latin America to fully decriminalize abortion.
Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (killing one's children) will be your ruin". But she said legalization advocates will still campaign in her country, which is one of the few in the world to ban abortion under all circumstances.
While abortion rights activists waited for the decision under umbrellas, opponents gathered Wednesday night at a "Mass for Life" at the Metropolitan Cathedral, the church of Pope Francis during his tenure as the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
But the contentious issue has divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Catholic Church against feminist groups and physicians.
But the grassroots movement behind the legislation was buoyed by coming closer than ever to achieving approval for abortion and activists vowed to keep pressing to expand women's reproductive rights. Argentine law guarantees life from the moment of conception.
Argentina now allows abortion only in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health and abortion rights activists say 3,000 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983.
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Many women, a lot of them poor, have risky and degrading abortions every year - and activists estimate 3,000 have died since 1983.
Worldwide human rights and women's groups closely followed the campaign, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the cause.
Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis and home to some 30 million Catholics, allows abortions only in cases of rape or danger to the mother's health.
Another senator who was voting in favour of abortion was 2007-2015 President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who said she had initially opposed abortion, but the "thousands of girls who came out to the streets" in support of it had made her change her mind. But in June, he said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi eugenics programmes.
"We're not deciding abortion yes or no. It doesn't reduce abortions - it just makes them unsafe", said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty in an interview with the progressive UK Guardian last April.
Sadness turned to anger as some demonstrators hurled bottles outside the Palace of the Argentine National Congress in Buenos Aires.
It is also legal in Mexico City. Feminists and other groups led even larger demonstrations in support of the measure, often wearing green that symbolizes the pro-abortion movement, or red cloaks and white bonnets like the characters from the novel-turned-TV series "The Handmaid's Tale". Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned.
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