Doctor Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison for Refusing to Kill Baby in an Abortion

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 24, 2020   |   11:49AM   |   Buenos Aires, Argentina

A gynecologist in Argentina was sentenced to 14 months in prison this month for refusing to kill an unborn baby in an abortion.

BioEdge reports an Argentine court slammed Dr Leandro Rodriguez Lastra for “ignoring a woman’s voice” and “her vital needs” when he provided medical care to her and her unborn baby, rather than an abortion.

Lastra’s lawyers said he plans to appeal the sentence of 14-month suspended jail term, plus 28 months of disqualification from holding public office, which they called an unjust ruling.

In 2017, Lastra refused to abort the rape victim’s unborn baby at 23 weeks of pregnancy, the Catholic News Agency reports. The young woman, 19, went to the hospital after abortion drugs that had been prescribed to her did not work, the report states.

Lastra, the head of gynecology at the Pedro Moguillansky Hospital in Cipoletti, said a late-term abortion would have been risky for the mother as well as her unborn child. Instead, he provided them with basic medical care, according to the report. The child since has been adopted.

In 2019, a court found Lastra guilty of “breaching the duties of a public official” for refusing to abort the unborn baby.

Judges Miguel Angel Cardella and María Rita Custet Llambí agreed with the conviction earlier this month, ruling that Lastra “did not respect the personal autonomy of the woman,” according to the report.

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“ … ignoring a woman’s voice, ignoring her vital needs, subjugating reproductive rights, devastating the psyche and enslaving the body in order to force pregnancy after a rape, means denying the victim’s status as a subject of rights and is the incarnation of gender violence in its most painful form,” Custet Llambí wrote in her opinion.

But Lastra’s lawyer slammed the ruling as “mere ideological expression.”

“[The verdict] shows that they did not look at anything in the trial, in fact they practically do not cite the witnesses or anything that happened there,” his lawyer said. “It’s as if they didn’t see it. … if the Superior Court or the Court applies the law, as it should, we will be able to overturn this ruling.”

Pro-life bioethicist and attorney Wesley J. Smith mourned the injustice against the doctor in a column at The Corner.

“… now in Argentina, the right to obtain an abortion has been declared so fundamental that an objecting M.D. can be held criminally culpable for refusing to terminate a pregnancy,” Smith wrote. “It’s almost as if the court considered the doctor to be a co-conspirator with the rapist.”

Smith said the court is punishing a doctor for following the Hippocratic Oath and saving a baby’s life.

“Adding to the topsy-turvy nature of that decision, instead of being dead the baby is alive in the world. Shouldn’t that outcome, at least, be a cause for celebration instead of condemnation in this difficult circumstance?” he questioned.

Many pro-life and religious groups have been speaking up for the doctor. 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. Last year, 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.