Supreme Court of Buenos Aires allows handicapped woman to undergo abortion

.- The Supreme Court of the province of Buenos Aires in Argentina issued a 6-3 ruling this week allowing a 19 year-old handicapped woman who was raped by a family member and became pregnant to undergo an abortion.

The case made its way to the provincial Supreme Court after both a lower court and the court of appeals in La Plata ruled against the abortion.

Justices Luis Genoud, Daniel Soria, Francisco Roncoroni, Hilda Kogan, Juan Carlos Hitters and Horacio Piombo voted to allow the young woman to undergo the procedure and said the matter should not have been taken to the courts as doctors have the authority to practice abortion, according to Argentina’s Penal Code, which does not prohibit abortion when “the pregnancy is a result of rape or an attack on the modesty of a mentally retarded or insane woman.”

“While the general rule is to preserve life from the moment of conception, there are exceptions. This is one of those exceptions,” the justices argued.  They also requested local officials provide all of the assistance necessary to care for the health and well being of the young woman and her family.

The three justices that voted to protect the life of the unborn are Eduardo Pettigiani, Federico Dominguez and Juan Carlos Mahiquez.  In their dissent they said the ruling by the court of appeals should have been upheld because the country’s Constitution, which protects the unborn from the moment of conception, takes precedence over the Penal Code.

They argued the clause in question in the Penal Code punishes the unborn with a death sentence in cases of rape.  This would constitute “discrimination against the children of women who were raped: The State looks after the criminal, gives him the chance to return to society and orchestrates the death of the unborn child,” they asserted.  “While a woman cannot be forced to be a mother, this does not necessarily imply that she has to sacrifice the baby.”  

The high court went ahead with its ruling even though some organizations, such as the Catholic University of La Plata, had offered to assist the young woman and adopt her child.

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