Great article in the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, about a network of women, called Pink Rescue, who accompany other women in the use of misoprostol for safe abortion. They give information, advise about risks and help make sure the women get a checkup afterward.

Articulo excelente sobre Socorro Rosa servicio de acompañamiento de mujeres que están usando el misoprostol para abortar con seguridad. Dan información, consejan sobre los riesgos y ayudan a segurar que la mujer haga un examen de control despues.;
Press Release
The Campaign for the Right to a Legal, Safe and Free Abortion celebrates a victory. The Commission debate of the project on the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law and the favorable resolution for the decriminalization and legalization of abortion, achieved on November 1st2011, is a historical milestone that announces that the debate will continue in Congress next year.
The Campaign, made up of over 300 organizations from different areas, has played an important role in informing public opinion and encouraging honest debate. A public opinion which increasingly opens to abortion decriminalization and legalization, and it is increasingly aware that the practice of abortion that has to do with public health, with social equality, women’s rights and with enhancing democracy.
The Campaign’s draft law enables the voluntary interruption of pregnancy up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and beyond that time frame in cases of violation, serious fetus malformation, or risks to the woman’s life and health.
In view of the opposite versions heard these days, we believe it is appropriate to give to the public our version of the facts, not only of November 1st. The denial by Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Carlos Vega, of the resolution he himself had approved on November 1st, at a meeting of the criminal legislation commission which he presides, and which he himself had summoned, is untenable. Untenable, but in agreement with his inability to keep his word, something that has always characterized him. During this year, MP Vega – summoned a similar meeting on September 27th, though most of the MPs who had signed the Campaign’s project had made it clear that it would be convenient to summon the meeting after the presidential elections.
– made known his own draft law for non punishable abortion law during that meeting, and then postponed it for November 1st given the pressure of his peers.
– at the beginning of the meeting held on November 1st he tried to put aside the draft laws for the legalization of abortion to focus on the draft law that he himself had presented. The firm stand taken by many of the MPs present against a resolution taken under those conditions was enough for Vega to immediately include both draft laws which he had just put aside.
– the day after the resolution, when the news was all over the media, he denied it, as if it were possible for him as president of the criminal legislation commission not to know how to count the votes of those present, not to know how to count the Commission MPs present, not to know how to estimate the resulting proportion so as to consider it a majority vote.
The truth is that there were 12 MPs present when vote was taken, not 15, as MP Vilma Ibarra made it clear at that moment and as it is entered in the verbatim record of the meeting, a record that also contains the detailed discussion of the meeting, the opinions given by all the MPs from all political parties, and the final agreement with the resolution.
Abortion decriminalization and legalization is already under debate. The Campaign is a driving force and a main actor in this project, it has been, it is, and it will be present in every debate on abortion criminalization and legalization that takes place inside and outside Parliament. We are still in campaign, we continue to strengthen, in every instance, the commitment and force necessary so that the social change that took place in our country as regards the illegality of abortion may transform into a change in Law, one that reflects and respects the decisions women take every day about their sexuality and reproduction. Thus we ratify the permanent effort put into the implementation of the Comprehensive Sexual Education laws, and the full applicability of the Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation National Program, and for the speedy passing of the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy Law.

Description: Description: Author image

reader diary by DeniseHirao [1], International Women’s Health Coalition

July 18, 2011

When LMR got pregnant after being raped by a relative, she was 19 years-old and had a mental disability that limited her understanding to that of an 8-10 year-old child. She lived with her mother, Vicenta, in very poor conditions in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Vicenta requested an abortion for her daughter based on the Argentinean legislation that punishes abortion in most circumstances but not in cases of rape of a woman with mental disability. Despite multiple attempts with the support of women rights advocates, which obtained a favorable decision by the Buenos Aires Supreme Court, LMR was not able to have an abortion at the public health system. She ultimately terminated the pregnancy at a clandestine practice.

This case was presented to the UN Human Rights Committee by Argentinean organizations INSGENAR – Instituto de Género, Derecho y Desarrollo [10], Catholics for the Right to Decide-Córdob [11]a, and CLADEM-Argentina [12]. The Committee issued a groundbreaking decision [13] in late April, concluding that the facts amounted to physical and moral suffering that violates article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee also concluded that there were violations to the right to privacy and equality between men and women. This would be a matter of gender equality because only women are vulnerable to this type of human rights violations, as only women can get pregnant.

According to Susana Chiarotti, executive director of INSGENAR, “LMR was denied a legal remedy and she and her family have been submitted to intensive pressure in order to carry on the pregnancy and give the newborn in adoption”.  Ms. Chiarotti knows well the human rights violations that occur within the Argentinean public health system. For 6 years, she led awatchdog [14] on health, gender and human rights, which identified practices that did not comply with human rights standards and advocated for their suppression. For example, post-abortion scrapping procedures without anesthesia, which were common in the province of Santa Fe as a type of informal punishment, were abolished by the local government after INSGENAR’s interventions.

Apart from being called to uphold human rights standards at the local level, Argentina is now on the international spotlight for not having ensured the rights of LMR. The UN Human Rights Committee urged Argentina to take measures to compensate LMR and to prevent similar cases from happening in the future. The state has now 180 days to report such measures to the Committee.

Argentina is in a good position to not only avoid international shame, but show its role as a leading developing nation that respects women´s human rights. The Government has already produced technical guidelines to ensure access to abortion services in the cases allowed by the law and should now take concrete steps to implement them. These guidelines, which include provisions to ensure that women have access to abortion services without having to recur to the Judiciary, should be converted into a binding protocol, Argentina should also recognize the input of women´s organizations and formally include them in shaping the process to implement these measures.

These measures, albeit essential, will not fully address all the problems surrounding access to safe abortion in Argentina. A study conducted by CEDES between 2002 and 2003 in six Argentinean provinces concluded that abortion constitutes the first cause of maternal mortality (27.4%). A report by Human Rights Watch [15] offers more information on access to safe abortion as a human rights matter in Argentina. Therefore, apart from being essential to ensure a woman´s human rights, decriminalizing abortion is a key step to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity. As it is inferred from the Committee´s conclusions, it is also a matter of equality between men and women.

Argentina should thus pass a bill decriminalizing abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy, which is currently under discussion in Congress. This would make Argentina the first Spanish-speaking Latin American country after Cuba and Puerto Rico to decriminalize abortion. It would be a strong symbol of the prevalence of women´s rights in a country currently led by a female President.

An election year and a public debate could bring an end to botched terminations and Argentina’s appalling figures for maternal mortality

In December 2008 Sophia González sat in an NGO office in one of the large slums surrounding the city of Córdoba in Argentina and described her desperate search for an abortion.


With five young children, no work and her husband gone, she says prostitution is the only way she can afford to buy food for her family. When a violent encounter with a client left her pregnant for the sixth time, she says she had no choice but to try and get a termination. “I don’t believe in abortion but I was terrified,” she says. “I knew there was no way I could get food for this baby, I was all on my own and I was doing what I was doing for the sake of the children I had already. I couldn’t see a way out.”


She borrowed 50 pesos ($13) from neighbours and went to a place where they “know about these things”. The man there used a plastic catheter and a knitting needle. She didn’t have the extra 250 pesos for anaesthetic. “The pain was so bad afterwards I thought I was going to die,” she says.


Despite heavy bleeding she didn’t want to go to the hospital because she was scared she’d be send to prison for having an abortion. In the end her daughter persuaded her to go, something she said probably saved her life. She told me she was one of the lucky ones. “Girls die from abortions all the time,” she says. “But when there is no alternative, what choice for you have?”


Argentina’s strict abortion laws prohibit terminations except when the life or health of the pregnant woman is in danger or if the pregnancy results from the rape of a mentally disabled woman. The government has rolled out national contraceptive campaigns, but despite this there are still up to 500,000 clandestine abortions in every year.


In a country that has one of the highest levels of healthcare and education in Latin America – and where 98% of women give birth in hospital – the link between the ban on abortion and preventablematernal mortality couldn’t be more exposed.


Campaigning groups estimate that up to 400 Argentinian women die every year as a result of botched terminations. According to a UNFPA report last year, abortion remains the leading cause of “elevated” maternal mortality in Argentina and is the primary reason the country has a relatively high and stubbornly resilient maternal mortality rate of 44 deaths per 100,000 births.


In fact, women’s groups point out that haemorrhaging and infection/sepsis, identified by the World Health Organisation as the second and third causes of maternal mortality in Argentina, are also likely to be related to illegal abortions after women are admitted with post-termination complications.


Despite pledging to slash maternal mortality by 2015, the numbers of women dying in some regions are rising, fuelled by increasing poverty and crumbling health services. In August last year, just a month after Argentina celebrated becoming the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage, a damning Human Rights Watch report challenged Argentina’s reputation as a human rights champion by saying that prejudice, failing health services and a failure to act on laws guaranteeing free and universal contraception were needlessly killing hundreds of girls and women every year through risky abortions.


In recent months international criticism of Argentina’s poor record on maternal mortality has turned up the heat on politicians to do something to change this.


Now, almost exactly two years on from my meeting with Sophia González, could things be changing?


Last December Argentina’s congress made the historic announcement that it would open a debate on the legalisation of abortion for the first time in it’s history. Fifty members of congress have signed a petition backing a partial legalisation, and have promised to make it a key debate in the runup to elections in November.


While acknowledging this was a huge step forward, campaigners say they still face an uphill struggle to convince politicians and health practitioners that changes to the abortion law will reduce maternal mortality rates.


In December, under-secretary of community health Guillermo González said there were still insufficient efforts being made to reduce abortion-related complications.


Fusa, an NGO working in a hospital in the poor La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, said doctors were still refusing, “as a matter of conscience”, to operate on women who could legally request an abortion under current laws or who were admitted with post-abortion complications.


Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who has seen a surge of support following the death of her husband – former president Nestor Kirchner – has been outspoken in her support of the current abortion ban. Ahead of national elections, many groups worry that abortion is just too much of a political hot potato.


This year will be crucial in the battle over Argentina’s abortion laws. Whether groups like Fusa can turn what is still a one of the country’s most controversial social, political and religious issues into a question of public health and poverty will mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of women like Sophia González.

Women on Waves has established safe abortion hotlines in 4 countries in Latin America.

(desde Junio 2008)
(593) 099004545

(desde Mayo 2009)
Aborto Seguro

(desde Julio 2009)
“Aborto: Más Información, Menos Riesgos”
(011) 156 664 7070

(desde Mayo 2010)
Linea Aborto Informacion Segura
(01) 945 411 951

A great video about the hotline in Argentina (spanish only) is here
América Latina

In the land of gauchos, pampas, the tango, grilled beef, Evita and now legal same-sex marriage, unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality. In 2008, more than 20 percent of deaths resulting from obstetric emergencies were caused by unsafe abortions, according to a report issued by Human Rights Watch.

The administration of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina’s first woman president, has adopted a “don’t cry for them” policy, and cavalierly denies her sister citizens their reproductive rights. In July, her health minister, Juan Luis Manzur, signed a resolution that would allow abortions for rape victims without requiring a police report–only to issue a statement on July 30 saying that he had notsigned it and that the government was “against abortion.” He said the president felt the same way.

There had been some hope about President Fernandez de Kirchner’s position on abortion because she’s a women. But she has firmly stated on numerous occasions that she has “always been against abortion.”

The Catholic Church has enormous influence in Argentina, where 91 percent of the population is Catholic, and it opposes not only abortion but birth control and sex education, keeping the laws on the books from being enforced. The president and Argentine congress faced down the Church when they voted to authorize same-sex marriages. Why can’t they summon the same resolve to act in the best interests of women and girls whose lives are at stake?

These anti-abortion policies are not benign–there are victims. Official figures estimate that 40 percent of pregnancies (500,000) per year end in illegal abortions. Each year about 68,000 women enter public hospitals due to complications from unsafe abortions, and about 100 of those women will die.

I’ve often heard anti-choice mourning about the prevented birth of another Einstein or Gandhi. But what about the loss of a talented woman who dies from an illegal abortion? Or what happens to a young woman who can’t continue her education due to an unplanned pregnancy and is doomed to a life of poverty or trapped in a violent relationship because she’s economically dependent on a man? How many of these women could have been president (albeit with better politics than Fernandez), doctors, ministers of health, teachers, composers or scientists? Of course they couldn’t have been priests, but that’s another issue.

The Catholic Church, President Fernandez and anti-choice activists everywhere don’t want to hear about a woman’s life and potential. It’s only the fetus they imbue with a future.

by Carol Kng