Argentina Senate votes against legalizing abortion

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4

Thousands of pro-life demonstrators brought Buenos Aires to a standstill on August 4 Credit IVAN PISARENKO AFP

Ahead of the Senate vote in Argentina, President Mauricio Macri called the debate "a win for democracy". We will continue to stand with women in Argentina.

Small groups rallied in other countries across the region to voice support for the Argentine abortion measure, including in Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. More recently, the Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, movement that was created in Argentina to fight violence against women has grown into a global phenomenon. "It's the beginning of revolutions".

Soros also funds the pro-abortion Human Rights Watch (HRW), which has worked to pressure pro-life countries to legalize abortion.

"This is a wave", said Claudia Dides, director of Miles, a Chilean non-governmental group that supports sexual and reproductive rights.

An abortion-rights activist reacts outside the National Congress in Buenos Aires, on Thursday to news that the Senate voted to reject a bill that would have legalized abortion.

"Sooner or later, this will be law", Edurne Cárdenas of Argentina's Center for Legal and Social Studies told the New York Times. Chile previous year became the last nation in South America to drop a ban on abortions in all cases, though several countries in Central America still have absolute prohibitions.

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"This is obviously a setback", said Ima Guirola of the Women Studies Institute, a group in El Salvador. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose administration was against legalizing abortion, voted in favor of the bill.

Argentina now allows the procedure only in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health.

Women's rights advocates, however, hope that a more liberal judiciary in Brazil will at least decriminalize abortion to help avoid deaths from botched terminations in a country where hundreds of thousands of women resort to clandestine clinics each year. Activists estimated 3,030 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983 and framed the issue as a health matter. "Caring for life is the first human right and the duty of the state".

Following Thursday's vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing hard, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.

But the city's archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: "It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason. 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.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (killing one's children) will be your ruin". Macri said he was personally against abortion, but would sign the bill if it passed.

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