Lawmakers in Peru on Wednesday dismissed proposals to decriminalize abortions for women who have been raped.
A legal commission in the Congress voted to reject a bill to permit abortion in such cases, blocking the lower house from holding a full debate on the proposal.
Women’s rights groups had brought a popular motion backed by 50,000 signatures for the reform, already rejected in May by another congressional commission.
“Whether we like or not, abortion is a reality and we must acknowledge this situation,” said Freddy Otarola, president of the commission.
Most of his fellow members voted against the motion, however.
“Abortion is unthinkable for most Peruvians,” said Julio Rosas, a lawmaker and Evangelist pastor.
“Protection of life surpasses religion and politics. We cannot allow this country to promote death.”
Abortion is currently legal in Peru only if a fetus is seriously deformed or if the mother’s life is threatened.
The latest drive to decriminalize abortion in the Catholic country has coincided with the start of campaigning for next April’s national elections.
Supporters of reform have staged several demonstrations in Lima. The Catholic church has also launched a counter-campaign against abortion.
President Ollanta Humala in June expressed support for the reform.
“Women must be in charge of their own bodies,” he said.