by Lauren Junco, Jasmin Sanchez, Jennifer Mendoza, and Daniella Reyes
Eleven years old and pregnant in Tucumán Argentina, that is the latest headline that appeared in the New York Times. After weeks of what the young girl thought was stomach pain, she went to a health clinic in a rural Tucumán province of Argentina and found that she was 19 weeks pregnant. The young girl admitted that she was raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend and that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy at the local public hospital. Instead of following the girl and her mother’s wishes, the hospital gave her pills to increase the growth rate of the fetus and invited anti abortion groups into her private hospital room, further delaying her pregnancy and not giving her the desired abortion. When confronted with legal authorities the doctor at the hospital verbally refused to give her an abortion. Two private sector doctors were forced to perform a cesarean section on the then 12 year old because she was too far along to have an abortion (Politi 2019). Cases like this are common in Argentina and bring to light the human rights being violated in these circumstances. We chose to open with this news story to show the devastating, real life effects of inaccessibility to abortion.
This situation is an example of the reality for women in Argentina and around the world where abortion is banned. In Argentina there are only two situations in which abortion is legal: if the woman was raped or if the pregnancy puts the woman’s health at risk (Specia 2018). Conflicting views of whose rights matter more are at the center of the issue with regards to whose life holds more value: the mom or the unborn child’s? On one side, there is the Catholic church who says the killing of an unborn child is considered murder. On the other hand, there are the women protesting in Buenos Aires with symbolic green bandanas who feel their rights to have a choice are being violated. Throughout our research exploring the fight for legal abortion in Argentina, the same question arose time and time again, who’s rights matter more the unborn child or the mother’s? The Catholic church’s influence on Argentina is present in its legislation and its influence over the country. The church has more connections with politicians and resources to assert its power and combat groups who don’t agree with catholic ideology (Blofield 2008, 399-419). Groups like the Encuentros and NGOs go against the Catholic church in order to try to change legislation in an attempt to make the country more progressive. These groups want legal abortion for all women since 500,000 women have been hospitalized from poorly executed abortions (Kulczycki 2011, 199-220). But at UN conferences, any pro abortion or sexual health act immediately gets shut down by the Catholic Church out of fear of producing more homosexuals or other ungodly people (Teutonico 2017, 247-263). Female activism as a whole has been rising in Argentina which heightens the debate on abortion, bringing to light more arguments from both sides. (Borland and Sutton 2002, 700-722). This push could be from social changes happening in other countries in Latin America or the lasting effects of the dictatorship in the 1980s and how that has shaped social perspectives (Morgan 2015, 138-140). With the influence of conflicting outside agencies like the United Nations and the Catholic church, and the Argentine government, which is influenced heavily by Catholicism, the strive for progress faces an arduous journey.
Here is the full dossier.