Buenos Aires: Forty percent of pregnancies in Argentina are terminated by illegal abortions, a figure that is double the Latin American average, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said .
"In the rest of the region, 20 percent of pregnancies are terminated by abortion. In Argentina, abortion has become a method of contraception," Marianne Mollmann, advocacy director for the HRW`s Women`s Rights Division, told EFE here Tuesday.
She said the report, "Illusions of Care: Lack of Accountability for Reproductive Rights in Argentina", shows that "nothing has changed" since 2005 when HRW did a similar study.
"It is obvious that while the Argentine population is changing and wants to decriminalise abortion, the political sector does not want a fight with the Catholic Church. They did it with gay marriage (enacted last month) but not with this, which is a subject of life and death," Mollmann, who is visiting Buenos Aires to present the HRW report on the issue, said.
"In all of 2008 there was no distribution of contraceptive devices by the government because the contraceptives were left in containers on the docks for bureaucratic reasons. And the recent controversy about updating the guideline is shameful," she said.
The activist was referring to the health ministry guideline that doctors can terminate rape-induced pregnancies without court approval.
In Argentina, abortion is banned by law except when the life of the mother is in danger or the pregnancy is a consequence of rape.
The HRW report warns that many illegal abortions are carried out under unsafe conditions, which constitutes one of the country`s main causes of maternal mortality.
According to the study, some doctors refuse to practice abortions that are legal, driving some patients to unqualified practitioners, while other women do without any kind of attention and end up losing their lives.
According to official figures, Argentina has about 460,000 pregnancies terminated voluntarily every year.