Argentina senate rejects bill to legalise abortion

Argentina senate rejects bill to legalise abortion

Argentina’s Senate has rejected a bill to legalise elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours and voted 31 in favour to 38 against. Pressure from the Catholic church prevented its approval, according to press reports and female activists who supported the bill. Argentina is the homeland of Pope Francis.

“The church put pressure on senators to vote against the bill,” said Ana Correa, an original member of the #NiUnaMenos (“Not one woman less”) feminist movement that supported the bill. The lower house had already passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri had said he would sign it. Argentina currently allows the procedure only in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health.

Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, braved a cold and rainy night to stand vigil outside Congress on Wednesday while the votes were counted inside. Despite the final result of the vote, many women said they believed Argentina would have legal abortion eventually.

Argentinian-born Pope Francis, who remains deeply involved in the politics of his home country, has made no secret of his opposition to the bill. On Monday, the Clarín daily newspaper reported the pope has asked anti-abortion legislators to pressure fellow lawmakers to reject the bill.

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