Back in 2014, a woman from the province of Tucumán went to the hospital with a vaginal hemorraghe and a lot of pain in her stomach. She had been pregnant for about 20 weeks, but she was not aware. According to the doctor, she was diagnosed a spontaneous miscarriage, but when the fetus was found in the hospital’s bathroom she was accused of killing her baby by throwing it into the toilet after cutting the umbilical cord. A DNA analysis was never performed and evidence was never presented, but Belén -whose real identity remains private- was sentenced to eight years in jail for aggravated murder and was also demonized by the media.
On Monday, the Supreme Court of the province decided to aqcuit her, after spending two years in woman’s prison from March of 2014 to August of 2016. The arguments were based mainly in the fact that both professional confidentiality and her rights as a woman who went through an abortion had been violated. Since the case first started to get popularity, there have been protests all over the country demanding the release of Belén, with the support of many pro-choice and feminist organizations who were outraged by how the case was being handled.
Soledad Deza, the defense attorney for this case, is part of an organization called “Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir“. This movement was started by Catholic people in 1993 and since then, it has been speaking out for women’s rights referred to sexuality and reproduction, and its goal is to counteract religious fundamentalists by seeing the world through a feminist point of view. Soledad has received lots of praise for her support and her actions.
“This ruling provides justice twice over: for Belén and all other women who do not want to be mothers and that face spontaneous or voluntary abortion. I believe this ruling will encourage women to use the public health system because they now know they will not be arrested when they leave,” the lawyer told EL PAÍS.
In Argentina, abortion is not legal except for certain cases that compromise the woman’s health or in cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape. This, however, has not stopped anyone and complications during the abortion are considered the main cause of maternal death, with approximately 500.000 illegal interventions happening every year.
The Tucuman Supreme Court’s decision is considered a triumph for women all over the country who undergo abortions and keep speaking out for their rights. Taking into account the damage that has been done to her, it is now up to Belén to choose whether to sue the state or not, and we can only hope something like this never happens again.