LMR (2006) – Argentina

Rape victim with cognitive disability denied legal abortion, forced to have clandestine abortion

LMR attended a special school in Buenos Aires because she had the cognitive functioning of an 8-to 10-year-old. At nineteen, LMR was raped, allegedly by her uncle, and became pregnant. She qualified for a legal abortion under Argentina’s exception for victims of rape who have a mental disability. But as a result of the obstinacy of hospital officials and interference by religious groups, LMR was denied an abortion at a public hospital and ultimately resorted to a clandestine termination.

LMR’s mother filed a communication against Argentina before the U.N. Human Rights Committee.  In 2011, the Committee held that Argentina had violated LMR’s rights to equality and non-discrimination, to privacy, and to be free from cruel, in human, and degrading treatment. Crucially, the Committee found that Argentina’s failure “to guarantee LMR’s right to a termination of pregnancy … when her family so requested, caused LMR physical and mental suffering, constituting a violation of article 7 of the Covenant. The Committee was persuaded that the state’s denial of abortion, as distinct from the rape and pregnancy itself, caused sufficient psychic suffering to constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The Committee deemed the rights violations particularly serious given “the victim’s status as a young girl with a disability.”

Source: Reckoning with Narratives of Innocent Suffering in Transnational Abortion Litigation, by Lisa M. Kelly, Chapter 14 of the book Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective (2014), pg 303-326.