By Brendan Oliver Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The Argentinian Supreme Court issued a ruling late Thursday night which granted an abortion to a women rescued from a prostitution ring.
Argentina like most South America heavily identifies itself as Roman Catholic and 95% of all abortions that take place in the continent are illegal. Yet in March 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that abortions in the case of rape or pregnancies that threaten the women’s life are legal. Buenos Aires has since drafted regulations in order to implement that ruling, limiting the abortions to within the first 12 weeks of gestation of a rape victim’s pregnancy.
The 32 year old women, whose name has been withheld for security reasons had been kidnapped and forced in sexual slavery. Upon her rescue the women made the decision to go against her faith and the protests of her family and terminate her pregnancy.
However this would not be a private affair as controversy stirred up when anti-abortion activists identified the woman and protested outside her home, and then again at the hospital.
What was supposed to be Buenos Aires first legal abortion under the new abortion regulations turned into a spectacle of legal arguments and demonstrations from both sides of the debate. Scheduled for Tuesday, moments before surgery was supposed to take place the anti-abortion group “Pro-Family” received an injunction from a judge effectively stopping the procedure. The judge claimed that there had been no evidence of rape.
For another three days, the woman was forced to wait in what Amnesty International calls “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Debates on both sides of the argument stirred as the judge’s decision was appealed to the Supreme Court. Soon after the Supreme Court overturned the lower judge’s decision the trafficked woman was in the hospital despite numerous nurses and doctor’s refusal to take part.
Argentina’s Health Ministry made sure to clarify that abortion was indeed legal in certain circumstances and there would be no punishment for those who carried out the procedure.
Proponents for abortion call this a victory for women’s rights. In 2007 The National Health Research Program and the Ministry of Health of the Nation produced research that showed there were approximately 450,000 to 600,000 illegally performed abortions in Argentina.
The battle in Latin America continues, currently only Cuba has authorized full and legal abortions for its citizens. However, next week Uruguay will continue its legislative action and is expected to legalize elective abortion.
For further information, please see:
Today Online – Rape Victims Struggle To Get Legal Abortions In Argentina – 14 October 2012
La Nacion – They Have 5 Hospitals For Abortion – 13 October 2012
The BBC – Argentinian ‘Sex Slave’ Allowed Abortion After Ruling – 12 October 2012
CNN – Argentine Court Allows Abortions In Rape Cases – 14 March 2012
Pagina 12 – The Figures For Open Debate – 2 June 2007