A doctor in Argentina was arrested in September and is facing charges for allegedly committing an illegal abortion on a 22-week-old preborn child — against the mother’s wishes.
In 2020, Argentina’s Congress passed the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Bill, which legalized abortion up to 14 weeks gestation with exceptions that allow abortions after 14 weeks for cases of rape or if the pregnancy poses a health risk to a mother. On August 24, 2021, Dr. Miranda Ruiz allegedly committed an illegal abortion on a 21-year-old woman at the Juan Domingo Peron Hospital in Tartagal while she was 22 weeks pregnant. Ruiz said the abortion was medically necessary and claimed there is evidence in the medical records that “the patient was evaluated by an interdisciplinary team. What was done was legal and no crime was committed.”
According to Ruiz, the young woman’s health was at risk, which qualified for her a legal late-term abortion. However, she refused to disclose any details about the patient’s clinical history. Ruiz, who claims to commit 90% of abortions in the town of Tartagal, prescribed misoprostol to the patient and admitted her to the hospital. Misoprostol is one of the two drugs used in chemical abortions (the abortion pill regimen) in the United States. Allegedly, the patient’s aunt filed a complaint against the abortionist a few days after the completed termination. She claimed her niece had become “repentant” during the procedure but was pressured into continuing with the abortion and that the abortion was ultimately committed without her niece’s consent.
Children born as young as 21 weeks have survived when given proper medical care. If a pregnancy must end due to a risk to the mother’s health or life, an emergency C-section or a preterm delivery can be performed to save both mother and child. A doctor doesn’t need to kill the baby prior to delivery.
Ruiz, however, maintains she has done nothing wrong. “I couldn’t believe it, it was very surreal,” she said. “It’s crazy to jail a doctor who performed a legal abortion when there is national law that permits it.”
When arrested, she was detained for several hours and released. Ruiz is continuing to commit abortions while she attempts to have the case against her dismissed. She said she is committing more abortions than prior to her arrest and credits the arrest with “strengthening the attention we give to abortion.”
Ruiz could face up to a decade in prison if found guilty.
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