Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Argentina's abortion campaigners braced for crucial vote

The bill is expected to fall short of the necessary votes to pass into law

Global reproductive rights advocates joined Argentinian women in mourning the bill's defeat, but credited the country's pro-choice movement with building momentum toward securing abortion rights in Argentina as well as across Latin America, where only Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and Mexico City allow abortion in early pregnancy.

The bill would have allowed abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Families and clergy in baby-blue bandanas gathered outside the congressional palace as the result came in just before 3 a.m., waving Argentine flags in support of the Catholic Church's anti-abortion stance in Pope Francis's home country.

The Senate in predominately Roman Catholic Argentina has rejected a law that would have legalized abortion, rebuffing a grass-roots abortion-rights movement.

Natalia Carol, a 23-year-old supporter of legalized abortion, said she is "still optimistic".

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

The lower house of Congress had already passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri had said that he would sign it. Women who asked for an abortion would have had to wait no more than five days to get one.

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

In 2016, DCleaks.com 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. Uruguay and Cuba are the only countries in the region to have fully decriminalized abortion.

Global human rights and women's groups closely followed the campaign, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the cause.

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. Abortion is now legal only if the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or if the mother's life is in danger. Moreover, efforts to present abortion as a health emergency, calling clandestine abortions the primary cause of maternal death in the country, statistics show that this claim is simply false. Amnesty International has told Argentine legislators that "the world is watching". Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned. Lay Catholics held rallies and took to social media under the motto "Save them both", referring to the mother and child, while bishops released public statements condemning the bill.

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