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Argentine Doctor on Trial for 'Breach of Duties' after He Refused to Perform an Abortion

Argentine Doctor on Trial for 'Breach of Duties' after He Refused to Perform an Abortion

An Argentine doctor is on trial for “obstetrical violence” and breach of duties after he refused to perform a legal abortion on a 19-year-old rape victim.

Dr. Leandro Rodriguez Lastra, an OB-GYN in the town of Cipolletti, Rio Negro, declined to perform the abortion for the woman in April 2017. The provincial Kirchnerist deputy Marta Milesi then sued Lastra.

According to, abortion is legal in Rio Negro in “borderline cases,” meaning when the pregnancy is the result of rape, when the mother’s life is in danger or when the mother is mentally handicapped and has been sexually abused.

During the trial, Lastra argued that he did not perform the abortion for medical reasons, although he has previously said he is pro-life.

“The justice system that gave rise to this is allowing doctor’s (decisions) to be questioned, it calls into question our attitude and our ability to work and ensure safety,” he said. “I know I didn’t commit any crime. I would act the same again because no child’s death is going to weigh on my conscience.”

The 19-year-old never filed a complaint about the doctor. She came to the hospital by ambulance, saying she was in pain after having taken an abortion drug. She had a fever and was also having contractions. Lastra confirmed that she was just over 22 weeks pregnant.

Lastra reportedly gave her medication to stop the contractions and stop the abortion, but the doctor said he wasn’t sure she had really been given the abortion drug.

“I couldn’t take that seriously, I couldn't know what they’d really given her. As it was a clandestine group, I couldn’t check which drug had been ingested. The pregnancy was 22 and a half weeks along and the fetus weighed 500 grams. Abortifacient pills are used for much less advanced pregnancies; these present other complications,” he said.

“They’re saying to me: ‘How can you not know that Misoprostol causes fever?’ Of course I know that, but I couldn’t tell if that was really the cause. I had to evaluate it, ask for a blood culture, a urine culture, flow culture. I gave her antibiotics. There was a risk to the patient’s life,” he added.

The medical team set a date for a caesarian at seven and a half months. The baby, who was later adopted, is now 2 years old.

Photo courtesy: Olliss/Unsplash