ARGENTINA – Criminal abortion charges to be dropped against many women

Argentina has announced it will drop criminal charges against women accused of having abortions, following the government’s historic decision to legalise the procedure. The announcement offers hope to a large number of mostly poor and marginalised women already in prison or currently facing criminal sanctions.

Research by the human rights group Cels, abortion rights campaigners and San Martín University Centre identified 1,532 abortion cases in the past eight years that could potentially be covered. But not all the provinces replied to the researchers’ request for information, and the total may be substantially higher.

Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, Minister for Women, Gender and Diversity, said: “All those women who have been criminalised … will have the benefit that their cases will be dismissed, because there’s a retroactive application of the most favourable criminal law.” In addition, there are women who may have been prosecuted for murder or aggravated homicide after experiencing a stillbirth or miscarriage later in pregnancy, especially in the more conservative northern provinces, most of them extremely poor. The Cels report identified several women in this situation who were serving lengthy jail sentences.

SOURCE: Guardian, by Amy Booth, 10 January 2021 ; PHOTO: Amnesty International, by ©Agencia de Prensa Alternativa (Tucumán), 17 August 2016