Rape victims struggle to get legal abortions in Argentina

Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:30pm EDT
 
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By Hilary Burke

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Rape victims have a right to abortion under Argentine law, but the nation's Supreme Court was forced to intervene this week to ensure that a woman who says she was kidnapped, forced into prostitution and raped could end her pregnancy.

The case has divided the public and sparked lawsuits in Buenos Aires, one of Latin America's most socially liberal cities where the mayor and opposition lawmakers are fighting over what limits if any should be placed on the procedure.

Abortion is banned in much of Latin America, home to about half the world's Roman Catholics. Argentina is among the countries that allow abortions in cases of rape or when a woman's health is in danger.

The recent controversy began when Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri announced that the city's first legal abortion under a new regulation governing the procedure in rape cases would be carried out on Tuesday.

But a civil court judge blocked the abortion at the last minute at the request of a private group.

Anti-abortion activists identified the woman and protested outside her home last week and then again at the hospital where she was to have the abortion. The woman's lawyer, Pablo Vicente, said the hospital chaplain was among the protesters.

"This woman was the victim of human trafficking, she has been raped and she doesn't want to continue with her pregnancy, which is now in the ninth week of gestation," Vicente said. "She had to endure a protest at her home and her family didn't know the whole story of what had happened to her, so she has unnecessarily had to relive humiliations of all kinds."

In an urgent ruling on Thursday the Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and said the abortion could proceed.   Continued...

 
Pro-abortion activists hold placards reading "Legal abortion now-the church must not interfere" outside the Buenos Aires' Legislative Palace October 10, 2012. Rape victims have a right to abortion under Argentine law, but the nation's Supreme Court was forced to intervene this week to ensure that a woman who says she was kidnapped, forced into prostitution and raped could end her pregnancy. The case has divided the public and sparked lawsuits in Buenos Aires, one of Latin America's most socially liberal cities where the mayor and opposition lawmakers are fighting over what limits if any should be placed on the procedure. Picture taken October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian