Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Anti-abortion activists carry a

Anti-abortion activists carry a"Yes To Life banner during a protest in Buenos Aires

On Thursday, anti-abortion activists and abortion-rights advocates - many wearing green bandanas that have come to symbolize the country's growing women's rights movement - stood outside the National Congress as the Senate debate dragged on for more than 16 hours before finally going to a vote. Sooner rather than later, women will have the decision they need, sooner rather than later we will win this debate,"Pichetto said in his closing speech".

In mid-June, Argentina's lower house voted in favor of the bill by just 129 to 125, thanks in part to the anti-abortion President Mauricio Macri's insistence on pushing the bill through the legislature.

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.

"There was talk of a green square and a light blue square".

The Senate voted 38-31 against the proposed measure, which would have legalized a woman's right to seek an abortion into the 14th week of pregnancy.

"It's not about religious beliefs but about a humanitarian reason", Cardinal Mario Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, told churchgoers.

The Pope also reiterated the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion this year, urging families "to accept the children that God gives them".

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Despite false warnings to the contrary, no woman or medical professional is in prison for practicing abortion in Argentina, despite its illegal status. "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.

Worldwide human rights and women's groups have been closely following the vote, and figures such as US actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the pro-abortion cause in Argentina. "The human-rights group says that over the past 30 years, complications from risky abortions have accounted for a third of the maternal deaths in Argentina".

Rallies took place around the world in front of Argentine diplomatic missions, mainly in support of the bill.

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. Only in the Central American trio of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua does it remain totally banned.

Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay permit early-term elective abortions, as does Mexico City.

"We do as the Nazis did to safeguard the purity of the race, but we do it with 'white gloves, '" he said.

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