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Argentina's Senate rejects legalizing abortion, in Pope Francis' homeland

Argentina's Senate rejects legalizing abortion, in Pope Francis' homeland

As NPR's Colin Dwyer reported earlier, the bill's backers had argued it was an important step in a country where an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 illegal abortions occur each year. Will Argentina legalize abortion?

After the proposal's rejection was announced, officials sent additional police officers to disperse the angry crowds as protesters set off fireworks.

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

After more than 15 hours of debate, a total of 38 senators voted against the abortion bill while 31 voted in favor, in spite of pressures from a wealthy abortion cabal with powerful backing from the mainstream media. Mario Fiad called abortion a "tragedy and said he opposed the legislation, arguing it is unconstitutional and violates worldwide treaties". Thousands of women, majority poor, are hospitalized each year for complications linked due to unsafe abortions - the main cause of maternal death.

Meanwhile, at the city's Metropolitan Cathedral, a "mass for life" was held in support of keeping laws unchanged.

Paula Avila-Guillen, a director of Women's Equality Center, an abortion rights advocacy group, tells Reuters that the bill's supporters are prepared to regroup.

Activists estimate that 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983.




Some resort to using a clothes hanger wire or knitting needle to break the amniotic sac inside the womb, others take toxic mixtures or herbs that can prove fatal.

The Pope also reiterated the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion this year, urging families "to accept the children that God gives them".

For months, hundreds of doctors in Argentina had staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace. A few supporters of abortion rights threw missiles and rocks at police, who retaliated by firing tear gas and water cannon.

IWHC focuses its work in the UN, training global abortion activists in the art of lobbying and preparing activists from a number of nations, including Argentina.

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.

In Brazil, which is home to the world's largest population of Catholics and fast-growing evangelical faiths, abortion carries a punishment of up to three years in prison. Chile had been the last country in South America to ban abortion in all cases, though several nations in Central America still have absolute prohibitions.