Argentine medical association says abortion law goes against principles of ethics

Ola_Celeste_connoxph_UnidadProvida_30122020 A pro-life demonstrator in Argentina | Photo: - Unidad Provida

The National Academy of Medicine in Argentina has warned that the abortion law passed with the support of President Alberto Fernández’ administration violates the fundamental principles of the ethics of medicine and the defense of life.

Argentina’s law legalizing elective abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy was passed by the country’s legislature Dec. 30, 2020 and was published in the government’s Official Bulletin Jan. 15, 2021. The decree that regulates the law was published in the Official Bulletin August 15.

In response, the National Academy of Medicine said that it has an obligation "to alert society, institutions and professionals about resolutions that are against the fundamental principles of medical practice, ethics and the defense of life.”

The academy reiterated "its respect for life from the moment of fertilization," and criticized the euphemistic definition of abortion as "as access to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy."

This "incomplete regulation repeats the disregard for ethics, laws, religions, human rights, the value of life and demonstrates an attitude contrary to the international documents signed by the country," the academy charged.

In the practice of medicine, "the denial of conscientious objection collides with the beliefs of professionals and their possibility of refusing to perform an aberrant act against their freedom of conscience and their ethical and scientific principles," an ethic articulated "twenty-five centuries” ago by the Hippocratic Oath, whose author, “prohibited doctors from performing abortions.”

"The prohibition of conscientious objection includes institutions, despite their having in their statutes moral standards that prevent doing abortions in their facilities."

The National Academy of Medicine noted that the abortion law ignores parental rights when "a 14-year-old girl can request an abortion without the knowledge and approval of her parents."

"All the text of the law and its regulations advocate the establishment of abortion on demand in society," the academy pointed out.

In June, the Consortium of Catholic Doctors of Buenos Aires criticized the government for insisting on issuing regulations for the abortion law despite the drop in the country’s birth rate.

According to the country’s abortion law, women can procure an elective abortion for up to 14 weeks.

Beyond 14 weeks, Article 4 states that an abortion can be performed when the pregnancy is the result of rape or "if the life or integral health of the pregnant person is in danger."

Article 10 establishes that “the healthcare professional who must directly be involved in the interruption of the pregnancy has the right to exercise conscientious objection”, but must “refer the patient in good faith to be temporarily cared for by another professional in a timely manner, without delay.”

The article also says that "healthcare personnel may not refuse to carry out the termination of pregnancy in the event that the life or health of the pregnant person is in danger and requires immediate and urgent care" and "no objection may be raised based on conscience to refuse to provide postabortion healthcare.”

Article 11 of the law refers to institutional conscientious objection and establishes that when a healthcare facility avails itself of this right, it has the obligation to refer the pregnant woman to another facility that does perform abortions.

In addition, Article 15 of the abortion law incorporates Article 85 of the Penal Code, which establishes that “the male or female public official, head of the healthcare facility, professional, person responsible or healthcare personnel that unjustifiably delays, obstructs or refuses, in contravention of current regulations, to perform an abortion in legally authorized cases will be punished with a prison sentence of three months to one year and be disqualified from practicing for a period twice the time of the sentence.”

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