Argentina's Senate rejects bill to legalise abortion

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The bill had narrowly passed in the lower house in July.

The vote was welcomed by fireworks and shouts of joy among anti-abortion activists gathered outside of Congress.

Various charities estimate that 500,000 illegal, secret abortions are carried out every year in Argentina, resulting in around 100 deaths.

"What this vote showed is that Argentina is still a country that represents family values", anti-abortion activist Victoria Osuna told Reuters.

Macri has said he is personally opposed to abortion but allowed the debate.

Currently, abortion is allowed in Argentina in only three cases, similar to most of Latin America: rape, a threat to the mother's life or if the foetus is disabled. "We have to go to the causes of abortion and not abortion as a solution".

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The Catholic Church and Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, pushed back.

Hundreds of doctors have staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace.

USA -based organizations such as Live Action, Human Defense Initiative and the National Right to Life Committee expressed their opposition to the bill as well.

Abortion rights supporters wore green scarves while anti-abortion activists donned baby blue.

The proposal can not be brought up for debate until next year, but Argentina's Senate is set to discuss abortion again late this month when it considers reforms to the country's penal code, reported La Nación.

Celia Szusterman, trustee of the United Kingdom board of Pro-Mujer and director of the Latin America programme at the Institute for Statecraft, told CNN that the vote was "a step backward for women's rights and women's health". Amnesty International told Argentine legislators that "the world is watching".

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Women's movements across South America have been pushing against decades-old abortion prohibitions.

Argentina's senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

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.

In neighboring Chile, the Constitutional Court past year upheld a measure that would end that country's absolute ban on abortions, permitting abortions when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.

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.

Argentine protesters dressed as handmaids from the book during rallies.

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