Doctor arrested in Argentina for performing abortion in

Protests are held this Friday afternoon (3) in Salta, a province in the north of Argentina, to demand the release of a detained doctor this morning. She was responsible for performing a pregnancy termination procedure on a 21-year-old girl at Hospital Juan Domingo Perón, in the city of Tartagal.

The professional’s name was not disclosed for her protection. She would be the only doctor in the hospital not to be a conscientious objector (when the professional refuses to perform the procedure due to personal or religious convictions).

The case has generated revolt for what is considered a measure of persecution of health professionals who practice the procedure, guaranteed by Law 27,610 on the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy and Postpartum Care, approved by the Senate in December 2020 and which provides for the right to comprehensive health of individuals in the country.

“I’m detained and I may be here for a few hours until the prosecutor decides,” the doctor said via WhatsApp audio this morning.

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Arrested for legal abortion

The detention order was issued by Judge Mariscal Astigueta, who stated that the professional had “forced the girl to have an abortion”, echoing the false information circulating between authorities and the media in the province. A newscast even highlighted that “the baby was asphyxiated and thrown away”.

The Public Ministry of Salta reported that the prosecutor Gonzalo Vega requested the arrest of the doctor, as the procedure exceeded the 14 weeks of pregnancy provided for by the country’s legislation. The young woman was 22 weeks pregnant and requested an abortion, a case that may fall under the right to comprehensive health and the exceptions to the prescribed time limit for pregnancy.

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Veronica Cuevas, delegate of the national table of the Network of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide, informed that the complaint came from the patient’s relatives. “The young woman has not filed any complaint and expressly requested the legal termination of the pregnancy. The procedure was established by an interdisciplinary team, everything is in the clinical history”, says Cuevas.

“This is a clear case of persecution by anti-rights groups to frighten the professionals who guarantee rights, and the partner is being the target of this”, says Cuevas, “from the action of the patriarchal justice and the sensationalist press, which falsify the information, giving protagonism to anti-rights groups.”

In article 4, the law 27.610 determines that people with the capacity to become pregnant have the right to interrupt pregnancy until week 14 of the gestational process, and that outside this period, there are exceptions provided for by the Penal Code. These are cases of pregnancy due to sexual abuse and if the life or health of the pregnant person is at risk.

Protester demands freedom of the doctor detained in Salta this Friday morning. / Maru Rocha

The lawyer for the accusers, Andrés Rambert Ríos, is the same one who defends the gynecologist Marcelo Cornejo, who was removed from the same hospital for abuse of a minor in the exercise of his work. The complainant was the doctor, now detained.

The protests are concentrated in the Maternal and Child Public Hospital, the Public Ministry and several health centers in the province. The protesters wear the symbolic green scarf that accompanied the campaign for legal abortion in the country.

“With this action by the justice, they seek to limit the rights we have gained in years of organization and struggle”, wrote representatives of the Association of Teachers and Researchers of the National University of Salta. “They also seek to frighten and discipline the professionals who accompany and guarantee the rights of women to decide about their bodies.”

The Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversities has not yet commented on the case.

Edition: Thales Schmidt

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