BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s senators voted against legalizing abortion in the homeland of Pope Francis, dashing the hopes of women’s rights groups after the bill was approved by the legislature’s lower house months earlier.
The vote, with 38 against, 31 in favor and two abstentions, capped a marathon session that began the day before and stretched into the early hours of Thursday. Fireworks and shouts of joy erupted among anti-abortion activists camped outside Congress, while pro-choice campaigners, many decked in the green scarves that had come to symbolize their movement, were downcast.
Some burnt garbage and wooden pallets and threw stones at riot police, who attempted to disperse them with tear gas and water cannon. The vote followed a referendum in Ireland, another traditionally Catholic country, in May that paved the way to legislate for the termination of fetuses. It also came after months of heated campaigns on the polarizing issue.
The bill was passed by Congress’s lower house in June by the narrowest of margins, but was widely expected to fall short of the votes needed to pass in the Senate.
Lawmakers must now wait a year to resubmit the legislation.
Miguel Angel Pichetto, a Peronist opposition leader in the Senate, said pro-abortion campaigners would not be giving up.
“The future does not belong to the “No” campaigners. Sooner rather than later, women will have the decision they need, sooner rather than later we will win this debate,” he said in his closing speech.
His sentiments were shared by 21-year-old Camila Sforza, who said she remained hopeful despite the setback.
“This is just the beginning – our movement will continue till we get the right to abortion,” she said.
The move was also condemned by Amnesty International, which said Argentina had squandered an historic opportunity.