By Peter J. Smith

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, August 22, 2006 ( – Catholic pro-life groups won an injunction Monday to stop the abortion of a baby conceived in rape after presenting evidence to a federal court that the pregnancy of the mentally disabled woman was far more advanced than her lawyers maintained.

A federal court in Mendoza ordered the abortion be halted after pro-life groups “Life More Humane” and “Women for a more Humane Life” gave evidence that the woman’s clinical history indicated the unborn child was actually in the 20th week of gestation reaching the point of viability, not the 12th week as purported by the woman’s attorneys.
The court order arrived just in time to prevent the abortion, which had been scheduled for Monday morning according to Provincial Health Minister Armando Caletti.

“If, as has been publicly said, the purpose here is to protect the health of the mother, it is obvious that an abortion at such a late stage in the pregnancy would seriously complicate the health of the woman and would pose a risk to her life,” argued the pro-life groups in a joint statement.

“Likewise,” the statement indicates, “knowledge of these circumstances by hospital directors, judicial officials, and officials of the Ministry of Health would make them legally responsible if the murderous act were to take place.”

Although abortion is illegal in Argentina, two exceptions have been made in the law: for either a mentally disabled woman being the victim of rape, or when there is serious danger to the life of the mother.

In a statement concerning the case, Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza declared that “under no circumstances can the health of a human being be pursued by harming directly or intentionally the integrity of another human being, because the ends do not justify the means, no matter how noble the end.” The Archbishop said that attacking the root causes of social problems should be addressed, rather than seeking the rapid decriminalization of abortion.

The case mirrors a similar situation earlier this month where the provincial High Court ordered an abortion to be conducted on a mentally disabled 19-year-old rape victim. However, when the abortion was finally arranged, the doctors refused to perform the abortion on account of the advanced stage of the pregnancy.

(with files from the Catholic News Agency)