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  • A woman reacts outside Congress after senators rejected a bill to legalize abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 2018.

    A woman reacts outside Congress after senators rejected a bill to legalize abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 August 2018

The woman – identified only as Elizabeth – went to hospital suffering from septic shock and a generalized infection after a botched abortion, and later died.

A 24-year-old Argentine woman has died following an illegal abortion less than a week after the Senate voted to reject the Pregnancy Voluntary Interruption (IVE) bill, which would have legalized abortion up to 14 weeks and helped prevent such tragedies.

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On Sunday, the woman – identified only as Elizabeth – went to Belgrano Hospital in San Martin suffering from septic shock and a generalized infection after a botched abortion procedure.

Staff removed her uterus and transferred her to an intensive care room in a different hospital, but she died on Tuesday – the first death related to a clandestine abortion since the Senate rejected the bill.

"Liz, 24 years. A new death due a clandestine abortion in Argentina. We said it on the 8: there might not be a law, but abortions will continue, and if it's without a law, the woman's life is at risk," Senator Eduardo Aguilar posted on Twitter.

Elizabeth came from a humble neighborhood in Jose Leon Juarez, northern Buenos Aires, and was the mother of a two-year-old son. She decided to terminate her new pregnancy using parsley to induce a miscarriage.

One of the doctors involved in the case told news outlet Pagina 12: "This is what clandestinity leaves us, because now girls struggle more to find someone that can do an abortion in better conditions or use a catheter. Of course it's not safe, but it's not the same as using parsely."

“Liz, the 24-year-old young woman that was hospitalized in Buenos Aires after a clandestine abortion, has died. This is the outcome of the voting session in the Senate. They don't care about the lives of the women. Legal abortion or clandestine abortion, that's the discussion," tweeted Raquel Vivanco, head of the 'Ni una menos' (Not one less) observatory for women's rights.

Argentina's Campaign for the Legal, Safe and Free Abortion Right expressed their regrets: "How many women and pregnant people must die to understand that abortion should be legal, safe and free of charge in Argentina? Clandestinity doesn't save any life. Clandestinity kills. For 'Liz' and many others, it will be law!” the organization said in a communique.

The Professionals Network for the Right to Decide, an organization of health workers, condemned provincial Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal's comments that she was relieved that abortion remained illegal in Argentina.

Anti-abortion activists gather as lawmakers vote on the bill legalizing abortion in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 9, 2018.
Photo | Reuters

Social media users also condemned the tragedy, using the #ElSenadoEsResponsable (TheSenateIsResponsible) hashtag.

On Thursday, Elizabeth's family gathered along with feminist organizations in front of the Buenos Aires government house for a vigil. People present at the event reported a strong police presence.

It's estimated there are 354, 627 illegal abortions carried out in Argentina every year, which means 984 a day and 41 per hour. As a result, about 70,200 women are hospitalized every year. Supporters of legal abortion believe it would reduce deaths due to unsafe procedures by 92 percent.

The Senate ruled against the abortion bill on August 9 with 38 to 31 votes, despite it being already approved by the lower house.


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