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Court Upholds Criminal Conviction for Argentinean Doctor Who Refused to Perform Abortion


An Argentine court has upheld the criminal conviction of a gynecologist who had refused to abort the baby of a rape victim almost three years ago. 

Dr. Leandro Rodriguez Lastra received a 14-month suspended jail sentence. In addition, he was also told by the court he couldn't hold public office for a period of 28 months, according to the bioethics news website BioEdge

Back in 2017, the 19-year-old victim was in her fifth month of pregnancy after being sexually abused by a relative. She first tried an abortion drug, but it failed. She was referred to Dr. Lastra, who at the time was the head of gynecology at a local hospital.

Lastra told the court the proposed abortion posed a risk to both the unborn child and the mother. However, the judges presiding over the case responded that the only requirement necessary for the legal termination of a pregnancy was a formal request from the victim, according to BioEdge

Abortion until the 20th week of gestation is legal in Río Negro when a pregnant woman is found to have been raped, according to the Buenos Aires Times

The child was born and was later given up for adoption.


In a divided opinion, two of the judges on the panel said Lastra was guilty of the crime of "failure to comply with the duties of a public official." 

Lastra's lawyer told BioEdge the ruling could be overturned by the Argentinean Superior Court.

The verdict, he said, "is a mere ideological expression that shows that they did not look at anything in the trial, in fact, they practically do not cite the witnesses or anything that happened there. It's as if they didn't see it. …if the Superior Court or the Court applies the law, as it should, we will be able to overturn this ruling."

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