Doctor May Go to Prison for Refusing to Kill a 23-Week-Old Baby in an Abortion

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 23, 2019   |   11:15AM   |   Buenos Aires, Argentina

An Argentine doctor may go to prison for saving an unborn baby from abortion.

On Monday, Judge Álvaro Meynet found Dr. Leandro Rodríguez Lastra guilty of “breaching the duties of a public official” for refusing to continue the woman’s abortion, according to Crux.

Rodríguez could face up to two years in prison for the conviction, but he plans to appeal, The Irish Catholic reports.

In 2017, Rodríguez refused to abort a 1-pound, 23 week unborn baby when the mother came to the hospital after taking the abortion drug misoprostol, the Catholic News Agency reports. The woman said she became pregnant from rape.

Rodríguez, the head of the department of gynecology at the Pedro Moguillansky Hospital in Cipoletti, instead treated the woman and allowed her pregnancy to continue, according to the report. When she reached 35 weeks of pregnancy, she was induced and gave birth to the child — now almost two years old, the report continues. The child since has been adopted.

Later, Río Negro legislator Marta Milesi cited the doctor for allegedly violating a law allowing abortions in cases of rape.

Here’s more from the latest report:

Judge Meynet ruled that the doctor carried out a “delaying manoeuvre” to take advantage of a vulnerable woman. He said that since Rodríguez was not registered as a conscientious objector, he was obliged by law to perform the abortion.

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During the course of the trial, thousands of people and pro-life institutions in the country backed the doctor through social media, petitions drives, marches, and vigils outside the court.

Rodriguez defended his actions to the court, saying he followed his oath as a doctor to save lives, according to the report. He also said continuing the abortion would have put the woman’s life at greater risk. The abortion drug that the woman took is supposed to be used only during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Many pro-life groups are speaking up on behalf of the doctor.

“It is obvious that the accusation made by provincial representative Marta Milesi, who is an abortion activist, seeks to intimidate doctors into doing abortions, even when these pregnancies are advanced,” pro-life organizations wrote in a letter to the judge and Gov. Alberto Wereltineck last week.

“Dr. Rodríguez Lastra fulfilled his duty and the Hippocratic Oath as a doctor, committed to the defense and care of life. We hope that justice will be done,” they wrote.

Religious leaders in the country are advocating for the doctor as well.

Catholic Bishop Alberto Bochatey of La Plata told a local radio station that people in the country “want life and not death,” Crux reports.

The Argentine Alliance of Evangelical churches also criticized authorities for prosecuting a doctor for saving lives.

“It’s fundamental to review the laws and protocols that create a culture of death without taking its consequences into account, leaving legal voids and contradicting the promise made by healthcare professionals,” the alliance said in a statement.

Among the groups advocating on the doctor’s behalf are CitizenGo Argentina, Lawyers for Life, Doctors for Life, the March for Life, Medical Students for Life and Independent Federal Women. They collected a petition with more than 50,000 signatures urging the judge to acquit Rodriguez, according to the report.

Argentina prohibits unborn babies from being aborted except in cases of rape, severe disabilities or threats to the mother’s life. But abortion activists are putting constant pressure on the nation to legalize abortion on demand