Argentina Doctors Won’t Do Abortion on Raped Teen After Court Authorizes It

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Argentina Doctors Won’t Do Abortion on Raped Teen After Court Authorizes It Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 2, 2006

Buenos Aires, Argentina ( — Doctors at a hospital in Argentina have refused to perform an abortion on a mentally disabled 19 year-old who was a victim of rape. A top provincial court in the South American nation said the teenager, who is five months pregnant, can have the abortion.

The girl was checked into St. Martin’s hospital on Tuesday night for the abortion, but the hospital’s ethics commission decided, after a five hour long meeting, to not do the abortion. It argued that the girl’s pregnancy for too far along.

Instead of an abortion, the doctors would have had to induce birth early, which may have killed the baby, but they decided against any operation of any kind on the girl.

Buenos Aires provincial Health Minister Claudio Mate, the head of the hospital Doctor Ricardo Maffei, provincial Justice Minister Eduardo di Rocco and Doctor Liliana Soria, a member of the hospital’s OBGYN department announced the decision.

According to a Buenos Aires Herald news report, Soria said that doctors are only allowed by law to do abortions in specific cases such as the one involving the girl, known by her initials LMR. However, he said that an abortion would have to be done at 20 weeks into pregnancy and the girl is 21 weeks along.

“In this case we’re already past the stage of abortion. It’s an advanced pregnancy,” Soria said, according to the newspaper.

The decision by the provincial court was a concern for pro-life advocates who are worried that it may begin to open the floodgates to legalizing more abortions in historically pro-life South American nations.

Like many other South American countries, Argentina prohibits abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. It also allows abortions when a mentally disabled woman is raped.

Yet, two lower courts denied the abortion and cited a constitutional mandate to protect the right to life of unborn children.

But the top court in the Buenos Aires province reversed their decisions saying the two exceptions Argentina allows for abortions do not contradict the nation’s pro-life constitution. It said the courts should never have blocked the abortion.

The case could have been appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court.

The abortion battle pitted the Catholic Church against Argentina’s health minister and it’s most powerful governor, who publicly backed the abortion. It saw abortion advocates rally outside the court to calls for plans to legalize abortion and a Catholic priest offered to adopt the teenager’s baby.

South America has become the latest abortion battleground as abortion advocates begin to use the courts to legalize more abortions, as they did in the United States over thirty years ago.

Colombia’s top court ruled in May that abortion should be legal in cases of the life of the mother, rape and incest, and when the baby has major physical deformities.

Uruguay saw its House approve a bill to legalize abortions in 2004, but the Senate wound up defeating the measure. The nation’s Congress is debating a new measure, but the country’s president has said he would veto it.

Brazil is also debating whether to legalize abortions.