A woman in support of decriminalizing abortion spreads colored smoke outside Congress after lawmakers voted against an abortion bill in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018.(AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
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Argentina's Senate on Thursday rejected a bill to legalize elective abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, an issue that has divided the homeland of Pope Francis.For long hours, thousands of supporters wearing green handkerchiefs that represent the effort to legalize abortion and opponents of the measure wearing light blue, braved the heavy rain and cold temperatures in Argentina's winter to watch the debate on large screens set up outside Congress.In Argentina, abortion is only allowed in cases of rape and risks to a woman's health.Backers of the measure said legalizing abortion would save the life of many women who now turn to dangerous illegal abortions. 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. Activists estimate that 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983 .For months, hundreds of doctors in Argentina had staged anti-abortion protests, in one case laying their white medical coats on the ground outside the presidential palace.In neighboring Chile, the Constitutional Court last year upheld a measure that would end that country's absolute ban on abortions, permitting abortions when a woman's life is in danger, when a fetus is not viable and in cases of rape.
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