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Debate Begins in Argentina on Measure to Legalize Abortion


An activist dressed as a nun is detained by police officers after she and other protesters placed a pro-abortion banner above a road near Pope Francis' route, before the pontiff's arrival in Santiago, Chile, Jan. 15, 2018.

Lawmakers in Pope Francis' native Argentina have begun debate on a bill that will legalize elective abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion is allowed in the Catholic-dominated Latin American nation only in cases of rape or if the life of the mother is in danger.

Large crowds of demonstrators, expressing either support of, or opposition to, the measure gathered outside the legislative building in Buenos Aires Wednesday as the debate began.

The Catholic Church has lobbied strongly against the bill, while supporters say it will prevent deaths of women who seek clandestine abortions.

Conservative President Mauricio Macri is openly opposed to abortion, but says he will not veto the measure if it passes.

A final vote is expected Thursday.

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