The decision of Argentina’s Senate in rejecting a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy has begun to bear its negative fruits.
News of its first victim has broken forth, a woman simply identified as Liz from Buenos Aires, who died after she inserted parsley stems into her vagina in a botched attempt to induce a miscarriage.
After a session that lasted 17 hours in early August, senators had voted 38-31 to shut it down, despite that it had already been approved by the lower house.
There were celebrations among those who opposed the bill, while pro-choice senators said that they would keep fighting for a change in the law.
It is expected that the latest incident would spur the proponents of the bill.
Local media reports the the 34-year-old Liz, was rushed to hospital where doctors found her suffering from septic shock after her uterus became infected.
An operation was performed to remove the uterus, and the woman was transferred to the emergency ward of another hospital. She later died at this hospital.
The case has sparked fresh protests over the decriminalisation of abortion in Argentina. Catholicism is the largest religion in the South American country and it traditionally opposes abortion. Protests have taken place outside the hospital where the woman died.
Ana Paula Fagioli, spokeswoman for the health professionals network Decision Right Net, said: ‘The uterus is sterile […] when a stem is introduced into the uterus the germs from the parsley go inside and increase the amount of germs inside the vagina.
This causes a serious infection.’ Reports suggest the woman had been taken to the hospital by her mother and was scared of reporting the incident as she could have been jailed for trying to induce a miscarriage. Ms Fagioli added:
‘For those who say that legal abortions are expensive for the state, I say that the costs in this case were very high, the surgery to remove the uterus, the night in an intensive care unit, the transfer, the new hospitalisation.
‘We knew that this was going to happen and this is the result of the desperation of a poor woman facing this alone.’
The fear of being prosecuted upon discovery is forcing a lot of women in Argentina to resort to illegal abortion.
Health authorities estimate around 500,000 illegal abortions are carried out in Argentina every year. Around 80,000 women per year are hospitalised due to post-abortion complications.
After being approved by the Argentine Chamber of Deputies by a narrow margin of 129 to 125 votes, a bill to decriminalise abortion was rejected by the Senate on August 9.
-Additional reporting by metro