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'The Fight Is Far From Over': Protesters Clash With Riot Police in Argentina After Lawmakers Reject Legalized Abortion

"The world was watching and Argentina's senators failed."

The Argentinian Senate voted down a bill that would legalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy on Wednesday night. (Photo: Twitter)

Outraged by lawmakers' rejection of a bill that would have legalized abortion Wednesday night, women's rights advocates in Argentina clashed with police, who wore riot gear and sprayed tear gas at protesters.

In a 28-31 vote, the Argentinian Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed women to obtain legal abortions up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy. The proposal was the subject of mass protests and the Aborto Legal Ya campaign, with supporters carrying signs on Wednesday displaying coat hangers and the word "Adios"—a reference to dangerous methods that have been used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Human Rights Watch estimates that although abortion is legal in Argentina only in cases of rape or to save the life of a pregnant woman, about 500,000 abortions take place in the country each year. Unsafe, illegal abortions are Argentina's leading cause of death for pregnant women. The stark reality facing Argentinian women sent thousands of protesters into the streets on Wednesday as the Senate debated the bill for more than 16 hours.

After the proposal's rejection was announced, officials sent additional police officers to disperse the angry crowds as protesters set off fireworks. At a pro-choice demonstration in Santiago, Chile, police fired a water cannon at protesters expressing solidarity with Argentinian women. Solidarity rallies also took place in New York, Ireland, and Brazil.

International reproductive rights advocates joined Argentinian women in mourning the bill's defeat, but credited the country's pro-choice movement with building momentum toward securing abortion rights in Argentina as well as across Latin America, where only Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and Mexico City allow abortion in early pregnancy.

"Sooner or later, this will be law," Edurne Cárdenas of Argentina's Center for Legal and Social Studies told the New York Times.

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