The Argentine Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday to decriminalize abortions in cases of rape. The landmark decision came out of a case where a 15-year-old girl was raped by her stepfather, a senior officer of the police force in the Argentine province of Chubut. In 2010, a Chubut court had ruled in favor of the adolescent having an abortion, which meant that yesterday’s decision formally backed the original ruling. The victim went forward with the abortion after the initial court decision.
Prior to Tuesday’s ruling, abortions were only considered legal in cases where the woman was mentally ill or if her life is threatened by birth. Doctors who performed illegal abortions could have faced between one and four years in prison. But the Supreme Court’s decision now permits doctors to perform abortions with the legal permission of the rape victim without having to seek court orders.
The ruling had the support of 11 institutions that presented themselves as “Amicus Curiae” (Friends of the court)—among them, Human Rights Watch and the Buenos Aires-based Asociación de los Derechos Civiles (Association of Civil Rights). On the other hand, the president of the Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, opposed the ruling, stating that “abortion is the suppression of an innocent life, and there is no reason that justifies taking a life away, even in sad cases of rape.”