· The Catholic Episcopate in Argentina on a recent Supreme Court decision ·
“Nothing can justify the destruction of an innocent life”. Again the Catholic Episcopate in Argentina forcefully reiterates their adamant opposition to the spread of abortion. In a statement to the president, Archbishop José María Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz commented on the recent Supreme Court decision which approved a ruling by a district court recognizing the possibility, without exception, to voluntarily interrupt the pregnancy of female sexual assault victims. The prelate, who met with the president of the Supreme Court, Ricardo Lorenzetti, added at the end of their encounter that it is a decision which “weakens the defence of life and which now makes performing abortion easier”. The Supreme Court, in particular, confirmed the ruling of a court in the northern province of Chubut which pertains to the case of an under-age victim of child abuse. The Penal Code of Argentina establishes that abortion is not punishable if the pregnancy is the result of an act committed against a woman with mental disorders or in cases which the woman's life or health is at risk. More specifically, the legitimacy of abortion was recognized by the court, even in the absence of mental disorders by a minor.
Abortion in the country continues to be illegal, except in various cases, in addition doctors who do not follow the law can be put in prison. However it should be noted that with the Supreme Court's approval, the principle legitimizes abortion, if pregnancy is a result of abuse.
The statement by the president of the Bishops' Conference underlines that “abortion is the killing of an innocent life and no grounds or reason can justify the elimination of an innocent life, not even in the sad or deplorable case of violence”. A message sent out last August by the permanent commission for the Year of Life, which was celebrated in 2011, was also referred to in the statement.
The Bishops reaffirmed that protecting the mother is an absolute priority, especially those mothers who find themselves socially excluded or in serious difficulty at the time of their pregnancy. Life, the message adds, “is a marvellous gift from God, which makes all other human gifts possible”. According to the prelates, when a woman is pregnant it is not only one life but two that we speak about, that of the mother and the child. “Both” the letter states, “should be protected and respected. Biology demonstrates this in a surprising way. We see by way of DNA, with the human genome sequence, that from the moment of conception there is new human life that should thus be protected by the law. The right to life is a fundamental human right”. The Bishops also stated they they are available “to listen, follow and understand every situation, assuring that all interested sides will be responsible for protecting the life, both of the mother and the child, without falling into wrong decisions. Abortion is never a solution”.
The president of the Supreme Court Ricardo Lorenzetti wanted to underline the fact that the ruling “does not make way” for the legalization of abortion, which can only be decided by Parliament. The minister of Justice Julio Alak declared that the government does not intend to present a law which legalizes abortion, underlining that it is “an issue which requires much debate”. However following this decision, it was explained that “doctors will no longer need approval of the court. They will only need a statement by the victim or her lawyer which affirms that the pregnancy is a result of violence”. According to various estimates there are 500,000 abortions each year in Argentina.
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