Argentina’s senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait until next year to resubmit legislation.
Currently, abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother’s health is in danger.
Demonstrators on both sides of the debate rallied outside parliament as voting took place.
Anti-abortion activists have been jubilant. “It’s a joy to see that our society can be based on such an important principle as the defence of the most defenceless, the child,” said one.
Pro-choice campaigners say they are not giving up. Some started fires and lobbed missiles at police after the vote.
For the bill’s advocates, legalising abortion is an urgent public health matter. Tens of thousands of women in Argentina are taken to hospital every year after illegal abortions. In 2016, 43 women died.
Those that can afford it use drugs to terminate their pregnancies while poorer women turn to far cruder methods.
Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American nations to have decriminalised abortion. It is largely prohibited across the region except in restricted cases.
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