Argentina’s senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait until next year to resubmit legislation.
Currently abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother’s health is in danger.
Demonstrators on both sides of the debate rallied outside parliament as voting took place.
Anti-abortion activists have been jubilant. “What this vote showed is that Argentina is still a country that represents family values,” one told the Reuters news agency.
But pro-choice campaigners, many of them dressed in green to show their support for the cause, were seen crying and comforting each other.
Pro-choice campaigners have for years tried to get bills passed, but their efforts gained new impetus when President Mauricio Macri – who opposes abortion – called on Congress to consider it.
In June, the lower house narrowly passed after a session lasting nearly 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside.
Among Latin American nations only Uruguay and Cuba have fully decriminalised abortion.