Argentine Senate rejects historic abortion law

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On Thursday, anti-abortion activists and abortion-rights advocates - many wearing green bandanas that have come to symbolize the country's growing women's rights movement - stood outside the National Congress as the Senate debate dragged on for more than 16 hours before finally going to a vote.

In neighboring Brazil, supporters and opponents of abortion recently testified before the Supreme Federal Tribunal in an extraordinary session on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Argentina now allows abortion only in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health and abortion rights activists say 3,000 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983.

But the contentious issue has divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Catholic Church against feminist groups and physicians.

Many demonstrators braved a heavy rain and the cold of the Argentine winter waiting outside the Congress building.

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Prior to the vote, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said he would sign the bill if it passed, despite personally disagreeing with abortion. Currently, it is only possible if the fetus is deformed, the woman has been raped or if the woman's life is in danger.

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Miguel Angel Pichetto, a Peronist opposition leader in the Senate, said pro-abortion campaigners would not be giving up.

Earlier in the day, scores of buses had brought people from around the country into Buenos Aires for the dueling rallies outside Congress. "We have to go to the causes of abortion and not abortion as a solution".

In 2016, the organization sent 32 activists from Argentina and other nations to participate in the 60th UN Commission on the Status of Women.

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Despite false warnings to the contrary, no woman or medical professional is in prison for practicing abortion in Argentina, despite its illegal status.

For many of them, the methods used to induce an abortion include using an IV tube with a sharp wire clothes hanger or a knitting needle to try to break the amniotic sac inside womb.

The alleged "human rights" organization Amnesty International has been hammering Argentina to repeal its constitutional provision protecting preborn babies from abortion.

Pope Francis this year had denounced abortion as the "white glove" equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families "to accept the children that God gives them".

Rallies took place around the world in front of Argentine diplomatic missions, mainly in support of the bill. There are three exceptions: if a woman is raped, pregnancy puts her life in danger, or a fetus is brain-dead.

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Uruguay and Cuba are the only two countries in Latin America to have decriminalised abortion.

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