Argentine senators on Thursday voted against legalising abortion in the homeland of Pope Francis, dashing the hopes of women's rights groups after the bill was approved by Congress's lower house in June.
Argentina's senators on Thursday rejected a bill that would have allowed women in the country to get an abortion in the first 14 weeks of their pregnancy, CNNreported.
Outraged by lawmakers' rejection of a bill that would have legalized abortion Wednesday night, women's rights advocates in Argentina clashed with police, who wore riot gear and sprayed tear gas at protesters.
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.
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Global human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.
Sen. Esteban Bullrich, who opposed the legislation, said "This bill, which is a bad one, does not intend to reduce abortion".
The vote was welcomed by fireworks and shouts of joy among anti-abortion activists gathered outside of Congress.
Activists estimate that 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983.
She added that the Senate had "therefore chose to agree on a system which forces women, girls and others who can become pregnant to undergo clandestine and unsafe abortions". 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".
For many of them, the methods used to induce an abortion include using an IV tube with a sharp wire clothes hanger or a knitting needle to try to break the amniotic sac inside womb. "Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the State".
Hundreds of doctors have staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace.
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.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said that Argentina had a "historic opportunity" to protect the rights of women.
Rallies took place around the world in front of Argentine diplomatic missions, mainly in support of the bill. Had the proposal been adopted, Argentina would have become the largest Latin American nation to legalize abortion, after Cuba.
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