Argentina's senate rebuffed 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.
Anti-abortion activists have been jubilant. "It's a joy to see that our society can be based on such an important principle as the defence of the most defenceless, the child," said one.