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Provincial judge says Argentina’s legalization of abortion is unconstitutional

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A strange turn of events in Argentina last week suggests that the country’s legalization of abortion for any reason through 14 weeks gestation on December 30, 2020 may not be constitutional — at least according to one provincial judge. The Catholic News Agency reported that on March 18, Judge Maria Eugenia Bona of the San Luis Province found the new law to be incompatible with the province’s Civil and Commercial Code.

Prior to December 30, Argentinian law allowed abortion only in cases of rape or when the life or health of the mother are at risk (see why abortion is never the answer to ‘life of the mother’ or ‘health of the mother’ cases here). According to the judge, the new law specifically contradicts Article 19 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which recognizes the “existence of the human person from the moment of conception.” As such, Judge Bona ruled that multiple aspects of the law are unconstitutional, including the allowance of abortion through 14 weeks gestation.

Judge Bona heard the case at the request of former Senator Liliana Negre. Her ruling is in keeping with an international understanding of the rights of the preborn child as articulated in the Vienna Convention, the American Convention on Human Rights (a.k.a. the Pact of San Jose), Argentina’s National Constitution, and the Constitution of San Luis Province. Bona found that each of the Conventions “gives precedence to the right of the child, in the face of a conflict.”

READ: Catholic bishops in Argentina vow to protect life despite abortion law: ‘All is not lost’

She continued, “It is worth wondering, because in the questioned law (of abortion), only the situation of women is defended, their rights … forgetting, for example, that this child has a father who may love him, that there are grandparents, who have an obligation of maintenance and may also love that grandchild. But they are the great absentees.” San Luis Province’s Constitution specifically reads, “the state protects the human person from conception to birth and from this to full development.”

Judge Bona’s ruling is the first in several steps necessary to nullify the December law. Ultimately, the ruling will have to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Argentina, and until that time, abortions can continue in the province.

Pro-life groups in Argentina have sought to bring similar legal challenges to the abortion law in several other of Argentina’s 23 provinces, including Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Salta. Religious leaders have strongly condemned the expansion of abortion in their country, and many healthcare professionals have voiced their conscientious objection to assisting in or referring for abortions. Abortion advocates predictably have capitalized on the Argentinian “victory,” moving rapidly to put pressure on Chile and the Dominican Republic to follow suit.

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