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Argentina abortion: Senate defeats bill after polarising debate

Argentina abortion: Senate defeats bill after polarising debate
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.

Pro-choice campaigners consoled each other after the vote..

... but anti-abortion campaigners were ecstatic

The debate lasted more than 16 hours in an often fraught session.
  • Argentine Vice-President Gabriela Michetti, who also opposes abortion, was heard swearing at colleagues without realising her microphone was on
  • One pro-choice Senator, Pedro Guastavino, said he had been lobbied heavily by the Catholic Church, saying he had had to "dodge crucifixes"
  • Senator Rodolfo Urtubey, who opposed the bill, sparked controversy by suggesting rape inside marriage did not conform to the "classic" definition of rape because - in his view - it did not always involve violence. He later said he had been misinterpreted
  • Former President Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner, who is now a senator and who had refused to back the legalisation of abortion while president, supported the bill, saying her mind had been changed by the thousands who took to the streets
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