In the end, Pope's homeland rejects abortion law

A child holds up a banner that reads in Spanish

A child holds up a banner that reads in Spanish"Let's save two lives during a demonstration against reform

But in a 38-31 vote yesterday, the Senate opted to keep most abortions illegal.

In June, the lower house narrowly passed after a session lasting almost 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside. "We won because we looked at each other eye-to-eye and we realized how strong we are, and that abortion will eventually be legal".

The bill narrowly passed through Argentina's lower house in June and President Mauricio Macri said he wouldn't veto it if it reached his desk.

Currently, women in the country are allowed to have an abortion only if the pregnancy is threatening the mother's life, or if it was conceived through rape.

Adolfo Rubinstein, Argentina's health minister who has argued for legalization, attempted to present abortion as a health emergency publicly by stating unsafe abortion is the country's leading cause of maternal death.

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Senator Norma Durango from the Justice Party said she would work "until the last minute so that this becomes law", warning that those who vote against the bill would be "responsible for continuing deaths".

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

Scores of buses have brought people into Buenos Aires from other parts of Argentina, city hall said. These centers provide food, medical assistance, psychological counseling, and legal advice to pregnant mothers in difficulty.

Abortion rights activists say the bill's approval would be a watershed moment for Latin America, where more than 97% of women of reproductive age live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank focused on reproductive rights. The Health Ministry estimated in 2016 that the country sees as many as half a million clandestine abortions each year, with dozens of women dying as a result.

Disappointing news for activists demanding safe and free termination of pregnancy (as opposed to back street, often lethal, abortions in particular for the less well off) in Argentina and supported by similar campaigns in many countries around the world.

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She says it's a "sad day. not only because of the way the vote went but the way the campaign for and against went".

There were even expectations that the conservative government might now move to decriminalize abortions following the wave of demonstrations by feminist groups that pushed the legislation before Congress.

Women's movements across South America have been pushing against decades-old abortion prohibitions.

Argentina and Brazil are not the only Catholic nations where abortion has been at the forefront of the national conversation in recent months. "This law does not obligate or encourage anyone to have an abortion; it defends the right to choose". While the pope hadn't spoken out about the bill, he did make a statement against abortion in the days prior to its vote, "comparing abortion to avoid birth defects to Nazi eugenics", CNN reported.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, the anger and upset was palpable as pro-legalisation demonstrators wept as they heard the news that senate had voted against the bill.

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