BUENOS AIRES—In a groundbreaking decision for the Catholic country, Argentina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed that women can have an abortion if they fall pregnant after being raped.
“In these cases, doctors will no longer need a court approval. They will just need a statement from the victim or her lawyer testifying that she became pregnant as a result of being raped,” the court said in its unanimous ruling.
The Latin American nation’s highest court was backing the decision of a provincial court from southern Chubut “which in March 2010 authorized an abortion for the young A.G, who was 15, and who had become pregnant after being assaulted by her step-father,” the ruling said.
Until now, abortions were only allowed in Argentina — where 91 percent of people say they are Catholic — if women were judged to be mentally ill.
The supreme court president, Ricardo Lorenzetti, stressed however that the ruling “would not open the way” towards legalizing abortions, which is a decision within the purview of the Congress.
Justice Minister Julio Alak emphasized that the government did not intend to put forward any draft legislation to legalize abortion, saying it was “an issue which requires deep debate.”
Opposition lawmakers backed by women’s groups are hoping the issue of abortion will be debated by Congress this year.
According to pro-choice groups, about 700,000 illegal abortions are carried out every year in Argentina. The health ministry has said the figure stood at 470,000 in 2009. About 100 women a year are said to die during the procedure.