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Argentinian Supreme Court decriminalises abortion for rape victims


Liz Draper
WVoN co-editor

The Argentinian Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday to decriminalise abortion for victims of rape.

In a unanimous ruling, the court upheld a lower court’s decision to allow a 15-year-old rape victim to have an abortion.

The ruling is a clarification of an existing law. Since 1922, a clause in the penal code has allowed abortion for rape victims, and in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

However, this provision was widely interpreted as only applying to women “of feeble mind”.  Abortions were frequently denied by doctors and courts due to personal anti-abortion views and fear of prosecution.

However, following the Supreme Court’s decision, neither rape victims nor abortion providers can face legal action.

Further, rape victims will no longer have to seek permission from the courts before undergoing the procedure. Instead, they will be required to provide a sworn statement to the doctor.

According to campaigners, the Court’s ruling will save lives. A 2010 report by Human Rights Watch documented how thousands of women suffer in Argentina each year due to poor reproductive health care.

About 40% of pregnancies end in abortion, which are often performed illegally. Despite the fact that unsafe abortion is the country’s leading cause of maternal mortality, many rape victims face difficulties obtaining the health care services to which they are entitled.

Abortion on demand remains illegal in Argentina, as in most of South America and the Caribbean. It is banned in all circumstances in much of the region.

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