Argentina Rejects Legalizing Abortion in Major Pro-Life Victory

Anti-abortion activists carry a

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

Pro-choice activists gather around a bonfire to keep warm as celebratory fireworks go off in the distance from a gathering of pro-life activists, as they all wait outside Congress for lawmakers to vote on an abortion bill in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.

Catholic and evangelical groups protested abortion with the slogan, "Argentina, filicide (child murder) will be your ruin". Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, whose administration was against legalizing abortion, voted in favor of the bill.

It's believed pressure from the Catholic church and Pope Francis are behind the decision not to stray from the strict abortion ban.

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.

What's Argentina's current stand on abortion?

But the Supreme Federal Tribunal recently held an extraordinary session to hear arguments on whether to allow elective abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But despite that, an estimated half a million women have illegal terminations every year.

Uruguay and Cuba are the only Latin American countries that now have broadly legalized abortion.

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Worldwide human rights and women's groups closely followed the campaign, and figures such as USA actress Susan Sarandon and "The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood supported the cause.

Senators from Argentina's northern regions led the charge against legalizing voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it.

"On the other side, activists fighting for legalized abortion say 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983". In June, however, he likened abortions meant to prevent birth defects to the Nazi eugenics program. Moreover, efforts to present abortion as a health emergency, calling clandestine abortions the primary cause of maternal death in the country, statistics show that this claim is simply false.

"There are positive points that have come out of this, first of all, that even when there are differing ways of thinking, there's a square in peace right now, with thousands of people defending their convictions", said Buenos Aires provincial Gov. Maria Eugenia Vidal, who was against the measure.

"Fortunately, women are gaining spaces and we've been learning from those spaces that they're demanding", said Gustavo Bayley, a tattoo artist wearing the abortion movement's green handkerchief on his arm.

Rosangela Talib, a coordinator for Catholics for Choice, a leading advocate in Brazil for reproductive rights, said the defeat in Argentina will not deter the fight to decriminalize abortion.

Many had camped in front of Argentina's National Congress since Wednesday night.

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