Anonymous (2017) Argentina

Doctor obstructs legal abortion in Argentina, ruin’s young woman’s life

In 2017, a 19-year old woman in Argentina requested an abortion due to rape and was admitted to hospital with contractions. The physician gave her a number of medicines without her consent, which stopped the contractions. He admitted her to the mental health unit where she remained for two and a half months. She then had a caesarean section and the baby was given up for adoption.

On 21 May 2019, the woman’s gynaecologist, Leandro Rodríguez Lastra, was found guilty of obstructing a legal abortion. Judge Menet said that Lastra never had the slightest intention of providing a legal abortion for the girl when he made it a condition that she must have a psychiatric evaluation first, something which is not required by law. He did it “knowingly, even though other health professionals in the Oro Hospital informed him that any evaluation could not be carried out in time to provide an abortion due to the lack of specialists in the hospital to do it. On the contrary, the doctor tried to use his position to violate the rights of the young woman. The judge said further that at the time of the events in 2017, the doctor was not included on the register of conscientious objectors of the province, had at all times maintained a denial of the practice that was demanded of him, to which he was bound by law, a denial that he tried to hide with excuses of various kinds and about which he did not inform the young woman concerned, as was his obligation to respect the rights of the patient.

The young woman’s evidence was presented by psychologist Paula Salto. She reported on behalf of the young woman: “The doctor did everything he could so that she would have to continue with the pregnancy, that she experienced daily flashbacks and images of the rape and that she then suffered a lot because she had been hospitalised until her pregnancy ended. “This ruined my life,” she said.

The doctor’s defence lawyer asked the judge to take into account the situation of the two-year-old child who had been born. Judge Menet replied: “It is not an appropriate argument in this case, nor is it legal. However, I intend to answer it.” He said: “It is evident that in the face of the collision of interests, the life of the child versus the young woman’s sexual freedom and self-determination, in the case of a conception produced by a rape, the law must make the second prevail over the first.” And: “This traumatic experience can only be experienced by a woman.” The judge also described what happened to her as “double rape” and “obstetric violence”.

Source: International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, May 24, 2019