The Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina (CSJN) issued a landmark ruling on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, which forcefully clarifies that a judicial order is not required in order to access safe abortion services when allowed in the law, therefore reaffirming that a woman’s right to privacy is paramount. The Court also applied the principles of constitutional interpretation in determining how the law protects life, what are interests at stake, and it sets the operating framework for the State to guarantee the full human rights of women.
In Argentina, abortion is illegal except where there is a risk to the health or life of the woman, or if the pregnancy is the result of a rape.
The case decided by the Supreme Court involves a 15-year-old girl, from the province of Chubut, who requested the termination of her pregnancy resulting from rape by her stepfather. After going through all the many layers of the local judicial system, she finally did get an abortion. Interestingly, the person who took this case to the Supreme Court was actually an anti-choice activist representing and defending the rights of the girl’s fetus.
Needless to say, the Supreme Court took on the case and this week’s ruling provides guidance for resolving any similar cases in the future. Most importantly, the Court clarifies the constitutional right of accessing safe abortion services where permitted by the law.
As a feminist and activist for women’s human rights, I welcome the decision of this Court. I understand that we still have much to do to in not only monitoring the compliance with this ruling, but also working to ensure that legal, safe and free abortion is guaranteed as a fundamental right.