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Fri Dec 13, 2019, 12:16 PM

Argentina's new government moves to guarantee access to abortion in rape cases

Women and girls in Argentina seeking to end pregnancies caused by rape will be guaranteed access to abortion under a protocol announced on Thursday aimed at reducing the latitude hospitals have in deciding whether or not to perform the procedure.

Argentine law, which dates from 1921, allows abortion in case of rape or threat to the life or health of the mother.

But abortion rights advocates say the law is not always applied across the largely Roman Catholic country and that local hospitals have too much power to decide which cases fall under the legal criteria.

““We are respectful of conscientious objection but conscientious objection cannot be used as an institutional alibi for not complying with the law,” Health Minister Ginés González García told a news conference.

He was sworn in on Tuesday after moderate Peronist President Alberto Fernández was inaugurated.

A similar, albeit more narrow, protocol was signed on November 21 by González's predecessor, Health Secretary Adolfo Rubinstein - but was repealed within hours by then-President Mauricio Macri.

Rubinstein resigned in protest.

Macri, who has long opposed abortion rights, left office on December 10 after becoming the first president in Argentine history to lose a re-election bid.

Despite Argentina's restrictive abortion laws, an estimated 300,000 abortions are performed annually - up to 50,000 of which result in dangerous complications, and, in 2017, in 30 deaths.

Fernández has announced his intention to send a bill to Congress legalizing abortion on demand.

At: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-argentina-abortion/argentinas-new-government-moves-to-guarantee-access-to-abortion-in-rape-cases-idUSKBN1YG2RH

Argentine Health Minister Ginés González García holds up the legal abortion guideline signed yesterday.

He's preparing a bill to legalize abortion on demand - rather than on the narrow rape/health exceptions current law (dating from 1921) allows for.

But the bill's passage is far from certain.

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