Activists protest in Buenos Aires after 12-year-old is denied legal abortion

Activists protest in Buenos Aires after 12-year-old is denied legal abortion

“Justice for Juana”, “Separation of Church and State” and “Stop institutional violence” read some of the signs carried by a large group of pro-choice activists as the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion held a protest in front of the Salta provincial government’s headquarters in Buenos Aires. Their slogan was #NiUnaMenos.

They were demanding the implementation of existing legislation on when abortion is legal and the impeachment of Salta province officials who refused an abortion to a 12-year-old girl who was raped in late 2015. Known by the pseudonym “Juana”, the girl is from an indigenous community. She became pregnant after being raped by a group of five men and three adolescent boys, in late November 2015.

The abortion would have been legal because her pregnancy was the result of rape, her health was at risk and her mental state also permitted it, but Juana did not receive proper medical care, emergency anti-HIV prophylaxis or an abortion. Her mother filed a complaint before the Judiciary, but even then the provincial government did not allow an immediate pregnancy test nor an abortion.

Juana was almost seven months pregnant by the time anything was done, and Juana was found to be carrying an anencephalic baby. On 3 June this year, while thousands of women took to the streets demanding public policies against gender violence and demanding safe and legal abortion for all women, she was having a caesarean delivery. The baby died shortly afterwards.

The province has been criticised by a national lawmaker for how the arrests were handled by local officials, and for the extreme abuses suffered by the indigenous community, including extreme gender-based violence. According to official statistics, Salta has the highest rate of rape, and the highest rate of murder of women and human trafficking in the country.

On 8 June, the Lower House of Congress issued a report saying that “all courts and administrative authorities are to comply with comprehensive health care protocols to deal with cases of non-punishable abortions.”

Buenos Aires Herald, by Ximena Schinca, 16 June 2016 ; PHOTO: Women News Network, 21 March 2012