Skip to main content

Argentine court allows abortions in rape cases

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:40 PM EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Women march on September 28, 2010, to demand the approval of a bill allowing abortion in Argentina.
Women march on September 28, 2010, to demand the approval of a bill allowing abortion in Argentina.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Abortion is illegal in Argentina
  • The Supreme Court ruled that it is permitted in cases of rape
  • The ruling clarifies an 80-year-old statute

Lea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) -- Argentina's Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that will decriminalize abortions in cases of rape.

Tuesday's ruling will ease what has been a very strict interpretation of the tough anti-abortion laws on the books.

"The statute has been on the books more than 80 years. However, there were contradictory interpretations by lower courts throughout the country, and these interpretations, in some cases, said that women who were raped are only permitted an abortion if they are mentally challenged or demented, which is what the statute says," said Alvaro Herrero of the Association of Civil Rights. "The court made a clarification about this issue and said that in all cases in which there was rape there exists the right to an abortion."

Abortion is illegal in Argentina. As interpreted, in addition to cases of mental incapacity, the law only permitted abortions in some instances in which the mother's life was at risk.

The original case involved a 15-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather. A lower court ruled in March 2010 that an abortion was permissible in cases of rape, but that decision was appealed to the nation's highest court.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court clarified that Argentina's Constitution and human rights treaties would not allow such a prohibition in cases of rape.

"On the contrary, they forbid punishing all victims of rape in accordance to the principles of equality, personal dignity, and legality," the country's center for judicial information reported.

The ruling also specified that judicial authorization is not needed before performing an abortion. The only necessary declaration is the patient's statement that she was raped, the court ruled.

Despite the country's tough anti-abortion laws, the health ministry estimates that some 460,000 abortions are performed each year in Argentina. The ministry estimated that about 100 women die each year because the procedures were not carried out with the required medical expertise.

Roberto Castaneda, a member of an Argentine pro-life group, said despite the ruling, there are other options besides abortion.

"A woman who has difficulties must have assistance. Legal, medical, psychological assistance. We have to promote the adoption system. There are thousands of couples in Argentina without children and who can't have children. It is a much more humane situation than killing," he said.

The head of Argentina's bishops conference, Monsignor Jose Maria Arancedo, said he was surprised to hear of the court's decision.

"Abortion is the suppression of an innocent life, and there does not exist any motive or reason that justifies the elimination of an innocent life, not even the unfortunate case of a rape," he said.

CNN's Javier Doberti contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT