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'How Many More Women Have to Die?" Days After Lawmakers Reject Legalization Bill, Argentine Woman Dies From At-Home Abortion

"Secrecy saves no life. Secrecy kills."

A young legal abortion activist holds up a sign in front of the National Congress Building while senators vote for the new abortion law on August 8, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A young legal abortion activist holds up a sign in front of the National Congress Building while senators vote for the new abortion law on August 8, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her sign reads: "More empowered than ever." (Photo: Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images)

Less than a week after Argentine lawmakers rejected a bill that would have legalized some abortions, the apparent first casualty from their action has emerged: a woman died from complications from an at-home abortion.

According to the Argentine newspaper Clarín, the woman, a mother of a two-year-old and identified as "Liz," came to the hospital suffering from septic shock after she appeared to have induced an abortion using a cheap but dangerous folk remedy—parsley. Doctors removed her uterus, but she did not improve. She died Monday night. 

"How many more dead women and pregnant people do they need to understand that abortion should be legal, safe, and free in Argentina?" asked the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion and the Web of Health Professionals for the Right to Decide in a joint statement.

"Secrecy saves no life. Secrecy kills. For 'Liz' and so many others, let there be a law!" they added.

The bill just rejected by the Senate would have decriminalized abortions up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy.

In the wake of the Senate vote, Mariela Belski, executive director at Amnesty International Argentina, had said that lawmakers "decided to reject a law that would have saved countless lives. For now, people who need to terminate pregnancies in Argentina will have to continue to risk death or incarceration."

Citing information from Argentina's Health Ministry, Human Right Watch noted that abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the country.

Guttmacher Institute noted in its Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access report that "once such countries expand the legal grounds for abortion and implement access to safe and legal abortion services, recourse to clandestine and unsafe abortions usually goes down. In societies where restrictive laws and stigma persist, however, women tend to prioritize secrecy over health—with consequences that reverberate at the individual, family and national levels."

"One common way to reduce abortion mortality is to broaden legal grounds—along with ensuring adequate mechanisms to implement the law and make safe services widely available," the report noted.

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