COUNTRY PROFILE 

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last updated: 25/04/2017

Abortion status: Criminalised, permitted to “save the life of the mother or where the pregnancy results from a rape or indecent assault committed on a female idiot or insane” [1]

Annual number of abortions: between 370,000 and 460,000 (2011-13) [2]

Maternal Mortality Rate: 54.7/100,000 (2013) [3]; 52/100,000 (2015) [4]

Annual number deaths from abortion: approximately 1/3 maternal deaths [5]

Recorded trials/ imprisonments for abortion: 417 (1990-2008) [6] NB. This is likely to be much lower than the actual number

KNOWN CASES (We encourage people to get in touch if they know of more cases.)

Name Belen
Date of Arrest 03/2014
Case Summary Belén was 25 years old when she went to a state hospital in San Miguel de Tucumán state complaining of severe abdominal pains and heavy vaginal bleeding. The doctor she saw told her that she was 22 weeks pregnant and that she was experiencing a miscarriage. Other medical staff who found a 32-week-old fetus in a hospital bathroom claimed that it was hers. They then reported Belén to the police claiming that she must have induced a very late abortion.
Charge Charged with homicide held in pre-trial detention for two years.
Sentence Sentenced to 8 years and imprisoned in March 2014 all without legal representation.
Current Status Following demonstrations on 12 August 2016 in cities across the country centred in the capital of Tucumán the Supreme Court of Justice of Tucumán ordered that she should be released from prison. In March 2017 her case was finally acquitted due to absence of evidence against her. [7] [8]
Name A.[9]
Date of Arrest 05/2011
Case Summary A is a physician who worked at a health centre in Bueno Aires. In February 2011 A prescribed Misoprostol to E a pregnant 12-year-old seeking an abortion. E's parents took legal action against A when they heard of the prescription.
Charge Charged with performing an illegal abortion.
Current Status A's case was delayed until February 2012. Finally in July 2012 the judiciary closed the case against A.

COUNTRY SUMMARY

Abortion in Argentina has been legal in certain circumstances since the adoption of the Penal Code in 1922. According to Article 86 of the Penal Code, abortion is illegal except to “save the life of the mother or where the pregnancy results from a rape or indecent assault committed on a female idiot or insane”. In the past, courts have interpreted the rape/assault provision to require that the rape victim suffer from a mental disability for the abortion to be legal.[10] In cases where abortion is illegal, the law stipulates prison sentences ranging from 3 to 10 years and as high as 15 years for those who carry out abortions. Women who consent to or cause their own abortion can be imprisoned for up to 4 years.[11] However, this can be greatly increased if the courts decide to convict the woman of homicide, such as occurred in the case of “Belén” in 2016.

Data and cases reviewed by the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES) and the Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), published by Ipas in 2014,[12] identified 417 cases recorded for the crime of abortion during the period from 1990 to 2008. The judicial records did not indicate whether these people were imprisoned, paid a fine or were granted conditional freedom, but they were all declared guilty of a crime.

The greatest percentage of sentences for the crime of abortion were against unskilled individuals who provided abortions. Based on national level data between 2002 and 2008, these sentences represented 80% of the total and were four times greater than sentences recorded against women who had an abortion. Between 1996 and 2008, a total of 234 sentences for this crime were confirmed nationwide. The jurisdictions with the most convictions were also the most populous provinces – Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba – and the city of Buenos Aires.[13]

Thank you to all groups and individuals who helped with the research for this webpage and full length report.

Read our full length report on the law, trials and imprisonment for abortion in Argentina:

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REFERENCES

[1] Penal Code of the Nation of Argentina, Law 11, 179 of 1984, Second Book, Title I, Chapter I, Articles 85-88. http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/15000-19999/16546/texact.htm

[2] Argentina Ministry of Health data, noted in: Belén Provenzano-Castro, Silvia Oizerovich, Babill Stray-Pedersen. Healthcare students’ knowledge and opinions about the Argentinean abortion law. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 2016;7:21-26. http://www.srhcjournal.org/article/S1877-5756(15)00063-4/pdf

[3] Kassebaum NJ, Bertozzi-Villa A, Coggeshall MS, Shackelford KA, Steiner C, Heuton KR, et al. Global, regional, and national levels and causes of maternal mortality during 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet 2014;384(9947):980–1004. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60696-6/abstract

[4] Trends in maternal mortality 1990 to 2015: Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division. Geneva: WHO, 2015. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/194254/1/9789241565141_eng.pdf?ua=1

[5] Argentina Ministry of Health data, noted in: Belén Provenzano-Castro, Silvia Oizerovich, Babill Stray-Pedersen. Healthcare students’ knowledge and opinions about the Argentinean abortion law. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 2016;7:21-26. http://www.srhcjournal.org/article/S1877-5756(15)00063-4/pdf

[6] Gillian Kane, Beatriz Galli, Patty Skuster, 2014. Argentina. When Abortion is a Crime: The threat to vulnerable women in Latin America. Ipas. http://www.ipas.org/en/Resources/Ipas%20Publications/When-Abortion-is-a-Crime-The-threat-to-vulnerable-women-in-Latin-America.aspx

[7] International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion Newsletter. Demonstrations in Buenos Aires and Tucumán to release woman sentenced to prison for miscarriage. 5 May 2016. http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/demonstrations-in-buenos-aires-and-tucuman-to-release-woman-sentenced-to-prison-for-apparent-miscarriage/http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/stop-press-argentina-belen-acquitted-tucuman-provincial-supreme-court-overturns-sentence-for-aggravated-homicide/

[8] International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion Newsletter. STOP PRESS: Belén released from prison. 19 August 2016. http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/stop-press-belen-released-from-prison/

[9] Kane, Galli and Skuster, 2014

[10] Penal Code of the Nation of Argentina, Law 11, 179 of 1984, Second Book, Title I, Chapter I, Articles 85-88. http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/15000-19999/16546/texact.htm

[11] Ibid

[12] Kane, Galli and Skuster, 2014

[13] Ibid