Argentinian Doctor Faces Jail for Refusing to do Abortion
In 2017, Dr. Leandro Rodriguez Lastra refused to perform an abortion on a 19-old woman who arrived at the hospital in the southern city of Cipolleti. She was 22 weeks pregnant after having been raped, and had taken an abortion-inducing pill, which had life-threatening side effects.
Rodriguez Lastra saved both the woman and the unborn child, who has since been adopted. The man who raped the woman was never tried for his crime. But the doctor was found guilty of “breaching the duties of a public official,” and faces two years in prison; he could also lose his medical license.
Dr. Rodriguez Lastra, will be sentenced during a special hearing by a criminal court. He could receive a suspended prison sentence of up to two years, meaning that if he were to refuse to perform a legal abortion again he would immediately be sent to jail. He is also under the threat of being struck off the register of licensed physicians, which would mean the loss of his job.
“I would act the same again because no child’s death is going to weigh on my conscience,” he said days before the trial. He also described the horror of a late abortion and insisted that he would also aim to “save both lives,” the mother and the child.
Rodriguez Lastra was holding his wife’s hand while the verdict was read. He told the press he is still convinced that he is innocent and had not been expecting to be found guilty. He intends to appeal the sentence.
Abortion is currently illegal in Argentina, though some provinces have a protocol in place that provide exceptions if the pregnancy is the result of a rape or if the life of the mother is at risk. In the province of Rio Negro a legal protocol has confirmed these “exceptions” and provides women with a legal right to obtain abortion in a public hospital when they apply. Most doctors in Cipolletti and the neighbouring towns are conscientious objectors, however.
According to the public prosecution, Rodriguez was not listed as a conscientious objector. Because he “did everything possible not to perform the abortion” prosecutors sought his condemnation for “obstructing a legal abortion procedure.”
During his defense, Rodriguez Lastra said he had followed his oath as a doctor and that by doing what he did he saved the life of not only the unborn child but also the mother, as continuing with the abortion would have put her at greater risk.
LifeSiteNews. May 22. Crux. May 23.