Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an 85-page report yesterday documenting how health professionals and judges severely restrict women’s ability to make family planning decisions in Argentina. The report, entitled “Decisions Denied: Women’s Access to Contraceptives and Abortion in Argentina,” calls this lack of reproductive choice an abuse of internationally recognized human rights laws.
Although abortion is illegal in Argentina, at least 500,000 abortions take place annually, and 40 percent of pregnancies result in unsafe, illegal abortions. Illegal abortion has remained the primary cause of maternal mortality in Argentina over the last 20 years, according to HRW. The report also noted that women who wish to be sterilized must have their husband’s permission, be over 35 years old, and have at least three children.
LaShawn R. Jefferson, HRW’s Women’s Rights Director, expressed concern that, “Argentina’s restrictive abortion laws have a devastating effect on women’s human rights, their health and lives. And the worst thing is that these effects are almost entirely preventable.”
The report urges the Argentine government to give women access to truthful contraceptive information, access to all forms of contraceptives, the right to have an abortion, and access to safe post-abortion treatment.