.- Leaders of the Argentine bishops’ conference met with Argentina’s president Dec. 18, to express their opposition to new abortion protocols in the country.
“We were surprised by the presentation of the protocol on abortion as one of the first acts of the new government. This way of acting pains and concerns us, which avoids reasonable democratic debate on the protection of life, the first human right,” the bishops said in a statement.
Their visit came after the administration of Argentine president Alberto Fernández, who took office last week, updated the country's abortion protocol to guarantee access to abortion to women who have been raped.
Argentine law allows abortion in cases when the mother's life or health is in danger, or in cases of rape. But pro-choice activists maintain that it has not in fact been accessible because of hospitals' discretion and conscientious objection.
The new protocol “will be used as a guide, especially in cases where the law clearly allows for the interruption of pregnancies,” Health minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia said.
“We are respectful of conscientious objection but conscientious objection cannot be used as an institutional alibi for not complying with the law,” Gonzalez added.
The bishops say the protocol violates Argentine law, since it was imposed by a government official “contrary to the National Constitution, international treaties and the country's Civil and Commercial Code, among other laws that protect life at conception.”
In their meeting with the president, the bishops objected that the protocol practically “authorizes abortion on demand.”
Argentine pro-lifers, known as the “Blue Wave” for the blue neckerchiefs they have adopted as a symbol of their movement, took to the streets Dec. 18, demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Health and calling for the protocol to be rescinded and for the Health Minister to resign.
ernández, of the Justicialist Party, assumed office Dec. 10. He has also announced plans to decriminalize abortion.
A bill to legalize abortion through the first 14 weeks of gestation narrowly passed the Chamber of Deputies in 2018, but was rejected by the Senate.
In May, an obstetrician-gynecologist was found guilty of having prevented an abortion in Argentina, after he decided in May 2017 to save the life of an unborn baby whose mother had taken misoprostol. Dr. Leandro Rodríguez Lastra was found guilty of failing to carry out his duty as a public functionary, as he was not registered as a conscientious objector. The child was eventually adopted.
And in March, the Archbishop of Tucumán called on society to be committed to protecting life, after an 11-year-old rape victim received a Caesarean section.
He encouraged the faithful to care for the life “of every child, of every adolescent, of every elderly person, of every sick person,” and daily “to protect, to care for, to serve, every human life, because every life has value.”
“It is very important to be called together in prayer, but for this prayer to become a real commitment to protect every human life and defend every human life with passion, courage and with much generosity and dedication,” he added.
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