(CNN) -- Voters rejected a ban on late-term abortions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a proposal believed to be a first on a city level.
Referenda putting abortion on the ballot have been tried on the state level. But what Albuquerque did Tuesday night makes it unique among cities.
If the proposal had passed, it would have banned abortion after 20 weeks -- with a few exceptions.
It would also have opened a new frontier in abortion wars, which are traditionally tackled at the federal and state levels.
With all 50 centers counted, 45% of voters were for it and 55% against it, according to the New Mexico secretary of state website.
Despite the defeat, anti-abortion activists said the battle is far from over.
"Pro-lifers in Albuquerque and elsewhere should not feel discouraged about the defeat of the effort," said Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life. "It is a brilliant strategy and we will see to it that this effort is introduced in other cities and states."
The municipal election followed an emotional campaign that included national groups.
Over the summer, anti-abortion activists gathered thousands of signatures to force a special election that will ban late abortions and make no exception in the case of rape and incest. It made an exception if the woman's life was at risk.
Both sides have plastered the airwaves and newspapers with ads making their case.
The defeat came the same day the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop Texas from implementing a part of a new abortion law that requires doctors to get admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they're providing abortion services.
CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report