Argentine court blocks abortion for rape victim
Buenos Aires: A court order that barred a rape victim Tuesday from having an abortion has sparked a heated controversy in Argentina.
The embattled judicial ruling came in response to a motion by the Pro-Vida (Pro-Life) group to stop the interruption of a 32-year-old woman's pregnancy.
The operation was to be the first non-punishable abortion performed in a public hospital following the legal reform passed by the Buenos Aires municipal legislature.
Judge Myrian Rustan ordered the suspension of the abortion and said that health authorities should provide "physical and psychiatric assistance to the patient", Pro-Vida attorney Pedro Andereggen told official news agency Telam.
The decision contradicts an Argentine Supreme Court ruling in March that decriminalizes abortion in case of rape.
Argentine Health Minister Juan Manzur said the case is outside his area of jurisdiction, since the hospital where the procedure was scheduled belongs to the municipality of Buenos Aires. He nonetheless called Rustan's order "rebellion".
The controversy moved to the hospital entryway, where activists of anti-abortion groups and feminist organizations were both demonstrating.
"We charge the Buenos Aires municipal government for making public the place where the abortion was going to take place, because that allowed this Catholic Church organization to victimize this woman," Manuela Castineira, of the Las Rojas Women's Group, told reporters.
After a court case that took five years, the municipal legislature passed an ordinance last week that decriminalized abortion in the case of rape or risk to the mother's health.
The city's right-wing mayor, Mauricio Macri, announced his intention to veto the ordinance on grounds that it "exceeds" what the Supreme Court established, but said that the law would remain in effect that allows abortion with judicial authorization.
Argentina's Penal Code permits abortion in cases of danger to the life and health of the mother, rape or abuse of a disabled woman, though the article has been open to different interpretations by judges and doctors.
Argentina has about 500,000 abortion per year, according to official estimates.