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  1. ITV Report

Faces of joy and despair as landmark Argentina abortion bill rejected

The issue divided the nation and public reaction following the vote was palpable. Credit: AP

Argentina’s Senate has rejected a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The issue has divided the homeland of Pope Francis and scores of supporters and protesters of the new bill gathered in the street to await the result.

Politicians debated for more than 15 hours and voted on Thursday 31 in favour to 38 against.

Opponents of the measure wore light blue as they awaited the result. Credit: AP

Thousands of supporters wearing green handkerchiefs that represent the effort to legalise 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.

Small groups of protesters clashed with police, throwing firebombs and setting up flaming barricades. Credit: AP

There was an emotional reaction on both sides of the debate and those on the losing side protested into the night.

While there was a strong reaction to the result, many on the losing side concede that it was expected. Credit: AP

The demonstrations were largely peaceful, but small groups of protesters clashed with police, throwing firebombs and setting up flaming barricades.

Pro-life demonstrators against decriminalising abortion celebrate outside Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Credit: AP

The lower house of Congress had already passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri had said that he would sign it.

Supporters say legalising abortion would save the life of many women. Credit: AP

Argentina currently allows the procedure only in cases of rape or risks to a woman’s health.

The contentious issue has divided Argentines, pitting conservative doctors and the Catholic Church against feminist groups and physicians. Credit: AP

Pope Francis this year denounced abortion as the "white glove" equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families "to accept the children that God gives them."

Activists estimate that 3,000 women in Argentina have died of illegal abortions since 1983.