Argentina Abortion Bill: Country Braces for Historic Vote to Legalize Abortion

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If the law had been approved, Argentina, a country of 44 million, would have been the most populous nation in Latin America to ease its strict anti-abortion law.

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

Some people even made works of art in support of the bill-often with nonfictional female characters.

"We are happy because it is a celebration of democracy, the triumph of both lives", said Ayelen Caffarena, echoing the campaign's slogan, "save both lives", a reference to the mother as well as the unborn child.

The bill had originally been passed by Congress' lower house by a narrow margin in June. Speaking with the conservative daily La Nación, Michetti said she would like to see a return to an outright abortion ban in all cases - something Argentina has not seen since 1921, when it adopted the law's exceptions. Current laws allow the procedure only in cases of rape, or when the mother's health is at risk. "This is not over", Natalia Carol, a supporter of the bill, told Reuters. Now that the bill has failed, lawmakers can not resubmit legislation until next year.

"On the other side, activists fighting for legalized abortion say 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983".

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However, activists also say that the fact that the bill was even debated in the first place was a "victory" of sorts.

"Women have never had their rights given to them", said Sen.

Thousands of pro and anti-abortion protesters in rival colours gathered in heavy rain outside Congress in Buenos Aires as politicians debated the proposal for 15 hours.

Speaking during the debate, conservative Senator Marta Varela welcomed the mobilization of anti-abortion campaigners.

In recent weeks the so-called "green wave" demonstrations have spread outside of Argentina too.

A partition was set up to keep the green-decked pro-abortion contingent separated from the anti-abortion activists who donned baby blue.

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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.

It's believed pressure from the Catholic church and Pope Francis are behind the decision not to stray from the strict abortion ban.

"It will happen because that's the world - to increase rights and this is one of the fundamental rights that is still not available to women in Latin America", said Szusterman.

Adolfo Rubinstein, Argentina's health minister who has argued for legalization, attempted to present abortion as a health emergency publicly by stating unsafe abortion is the country's leading cause of maternal death.

The pontiff also issued a letter in March, as the abortion debate began, urging Argentines to "make a contribution in defense of life and justice".

Tensions ran high during the legislative debate - which lasted well into the morning - with some members of the lower chamber being barred from the Argentine Senate and the vice president hurling insults at a senator.

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