Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalize abortion

Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalize abortion Izvor: AFP

Argentina's Senate voted against legalizing elective abortion in the early hours of Thursday morning, dashing the hopes of pro-abortion rights advocates in the predominantly Catholic country, the homeland of Pope Francis.

The Senate rejected the proposed bill 38 to 31, with two abstentions.

The bill, which fueled contentious debate, would have expanded abortion rights to allow women to end a pregnancy in the first 14 weeks. Current laws allow the procedure only in cases of rape, or when the mother's health is at risk.

Opposition mounted ahead of the vote in Argentina's more conservative Senate after the legislation only narrowly passed through the lower house of Congress in June. And the bill lost momentum over the weekend when an opposition senator withdrew her support. But even with its defeat, the groundswell of support for the legislation is not expected to go away.

"Those of us who work on human rights know these are long-term fights. There is a momentum now that we haven't had in Argentina in the past," Tamara Taraciuk Broner, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, told CNN before the vote. "If it doesn't move forward then we'll have to continue pushing for it."

The bill has ignited passions and sparked widespread protests in Argentina, with anti-abortion campaigners protesting in the streets under blue "save both lives" banners and members of the opposing side in the debate donning green bandanas.

In recent weeks the so-called "green wave" demonstrations have spread outside of Argentina too. Green bandanas -- now a symbol of the abortion rights movement -- have been spotted in Brazil, where the country's supreme court is considering loosening abortion restrictions. And momentum is growing in Chile, where lawmakers voted last year to ease the country's strict ban.  

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