Argentine Senate begins debate on historic abortion law

Argentina's Senate has begun a session to decide on legalizing elective abortions — an issue that bitterly divides the homeland of Pope Francis.

The lower house of Congress already has passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri says sign it. A vote could come Wednesday or early Thursday. The Senate also could modify the bill and return it to the lower house.

The bill would allow elective abortions in the first 14 weeks of gestation. Argentina now allows it only in cases of rape or risks to a woman's health.

Abortion rights activists say 3,000 women have died of illegal abortions since 1983. Opponents insist life begins at conception and some complain it could force doctors or clinics to perform the procedure even when they believe it is hazardous.

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