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Argentina lawmakers strike down bill to open abortion law

Argentina lawmakers strike down bill to open abortion law

Indeed, conservative President Mauricio Macri, who had promised to sign the legislation if it passed Congress even though he opposes abortion, said after the Senate's vote that the debate will continue.

"The state needs to be present with vulnerable women so they don't have to reach the point of an abortion".

Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries that now have broadly legalized abortion. More recently, the Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, movement that was created in Argentina to fight violence against women has grown into a global phenomenon.

There are at least 350,000 illegal abortions in Argentina every year, the Ministry of Health estimates, though worldwide human rights groups say the number may be higher. "It's the beginning of revolutions".

Global human rights and women's groups are following the vote, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and Canadian author Atwood have supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina.

"This is a wave", said Claudia Dides, director of Miles, a Chilean non-governmental group that supports sexual and reproductive rights.

Demonstrations in support of the Argentine abortion bill were also held in countries such as Bolivia and Mexico.

"What this vote showed is that Argentina is still a country that represents family values", anti-abortion activist Victoria Osuna, 32, told Reuters.

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In Brazil, the Supreme Court is set to consider whether current law - which allows terminating pregnancies only in cases of rape, fetal deformation or when the mother's life is in danger - is unconstitutional.

"This is obviously a setback", said Ima Guirola of the Women Studies Institute, a group in El Salvador.

The vote dashed the hopes of women's rights groups after the bill was approved by the legislature's lower house in June. According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, at least 350,000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country each year.

"On the other side, activists fighting for legalized abortion say 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983". They vowed not to take human lives, no matter what it costs them.

The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (killing one's children) will be your ruin".

But the city's archbishop, Cardinal Mario Poli, appeared to speak for many when he told churchgoers: "It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason. It doesn't reduce abortions - it just makes them unsafe", said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty in an interview with the progressive UK Guardian last April.

Outraged by lawmakers' rejection of a bill that would have legalized abortion Wednesday night, women's rights advocates in Argentina clashed with police, who wore riot gear and sprayed tear gas at protesters.