Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalize abortion

Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalize abortion

Argentina's Senate voted Thursday to not legalize elective abortion in the primarily Catholic country that's been heatedly divided over the issue.

The Senate rejected the proposed bill 38 to 31, with two abstentions.

Anti-abortion campaigners and clergy waved Argentine flags outside Congress as the result was announced at 3am local time (0600GMT), according to Reuters news agency.

The Catholic Church and others, including some physicians groups, strongly opposed the legislation, arguing it would violate Argentine law that guarantees life from the moment of conception.

The vote dashed the hopes of women's rights groups after the bill was approved by the legislature's lower house in June.

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.

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In June, the lower house narrowly passed after a session lasting almost 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside.

The bill, which would have allowed abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, had already been passed by the lower house of Congress earlier this year.

In 2016, released documents from Open Society Foundations (OSF) revealing Soros funding of the abortion front group International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) through his Women's Rights Program (WRP), which has been working in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

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.

Now abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother's health is in danger.

The move to legalize abortion in Argentina is a "public health and human rights imperative", said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

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"We're not deciding abortion yes or no". "Children should be accepted as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick", he said. "We're deciding abortion in a hospital, or illegal abortion, with a clothes hanger, or anything else that puts a woman in a humiliating, degrading situation - a real torture", she said.

Amnesty International had told Argentinian politicians that "the world is watching", and Human Rights Watch said the country had a "historic opportunity" to protect women's rights.

Sadness turned to anger as some demonstrators hurled bottles outside the Palace of the Argentine National Congress in Buenos Aires.

"We need to make an effort to resolve this", she said. Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned.

It is also legal in Mexico City.

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