Argentina's senate rejects abortion bill

Lester Mason
August 9, 2018

Argentine senators rejected a bill to legalize abortion after an impassioned debate ran into the early hours of Thursday, pushing back against a groundswell of support from a surging abortion rights movement.

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

Many women, majority poor, have risky and degrading abortions every year - and activists estimate 3,000 have died since 1983.

The issue has bitterly divided Argentinians, pitting conservative doctors and the Roman Catholic Church against feminist groups and other physicians.

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.

A small number of disturbances were reported with some pro-abortion campaigners starting fires and throwing stones at police.

Hundreds of doctors who opposed the bill had laid their white medical coats outside the presidential palace, while the pro-choice movement - in their signature green - held larger demonstrations and drew support from the likes of The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood and actress Susan Sarandon.

"What this vote showed is that Argentina is still a country that represents family values", anti-abortion activist Victoria Osuna, 32, told Reuters.

Global human rights and women's groups were following the vote, and figures such as American actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

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

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (killing one's children) will be your ruin".

Senate lawmakers voted 38 to 31 against the measure, which would have allowed abortion for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Argentina now allows abortion only in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health, and activists say 3000 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983. Currently, it is only possible if the fetus is deformed, the woman has been raped or if the woman's life is in danger.

It is also legal in Mexico City.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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