Argentina Judge Stops Abortion on Mentally Disabled Raped Woman

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Argentina Judge Stops Abortion on Mentally Disabled Raped Woman Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 22, 2006

Buenos Aires, Argentina ( — An Argentina judge has agreed to stop an abortion on a mentally disabled woman who was the victim of rape. The judge agreed to an injunction preventing the abortion after pro-life groups objected to it when another judge in the province of Mendoza, west of the South American nation’s capital, approved the abortion last Friday.

The abortion was scheduled to be done in a public hospital Monday morning, Provincial Health Minister Armando Caletti told the Buenos Aires Herald newspaper, but the new judicial order stopped it.

Abortion is illegal in Argentina unless the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother or the abortion is done on a mentally disabled woman who is raped.

The newspaper reported the unnamed woman is 25 yeard-old but only has the mental capacity of a four year-old child.

The case is similar to one that made international headlines only weeks ago.

Doctors at St. Martin’s hospital eventually refused to do the abortion on a mentally disabled 19 year-old who was also a victim of rape. A top provincial court said the teenager, who was five months pregnant, can have the abortion.

The doctors argued that the pregnancy was too far along to conduct an abortion or induce birth early.

Lawyer Dante Vega, who represents the family of the young woman from Mendoza, told the Herald that the two cases are strikingly similar.

"Time goes by and the situation becomes more dramatic," he said. Vega indicated he would take the case to national courts if local courts would not allow the abortion.

The debate over abortions on raped women who are mentally disabled is prompting a firestorm of controversy at a time when abortion advocates are pressing hard to legalize abortions in pro-life South American countries.

The Néstor Kirchner administration and the Catholic Church have fought about the issue and, during the debate over the first woman, Health Minister Ginés González García accused pro-life advocates of being "hypocrites," and claimed that more than 400,000 illegal abortions occur annually in Argentina, a nation of only 38 million people.

With the previous abortion case, Doctor Liliana Soria, a member of the hospital’s OBGYN department, said 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 before 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.

In that case, 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.

A Catholic priest offered to adopt the teenager’s baby

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, though a poll there shows a majority of the nation’s residents are strongly pro-life and want the pro-life laws there to remain on the books.