Argentina's landmark and recently approved abortion law faced its first setback on Thursday in the northern province of Chaco, after a judge moved to suspend its application.
Judge Marta Aucar, heading Chaco Province Court No. 19, approved an injunction filed by a conservative group and ordered "a suspension on the application of the abortion law” across the entire region.
Earlier this month, President Alberto Fernández signed into law a bill that allows abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, following its approval in Congress. However, advocates of the injunction in Chaco argue it runs contrary to provincial legislation.
The execution of abortion procedures "restrict, undermine, abuse, limit and alter” the “right to life of the unborn child, [which is] protected by our legal system from conception," reads the text of the injunction.
National Senator María Inés Pilatti Vergara (Frente de Todos-Chaco) responded to the news by branding Judge Aucar as “mindless and irresponsible” for approving an injunction that “attacks an acquired right.”
“It’s a legal monstrosity, a mockery of democratic institutions and legal security,” the ruling coalition legislator added.
Pilatti Vergara said that the judge was “closely linked to the Catholic Church.”
For the judge's ruling to take affect, the Chaco Province government must be formally notified, giving the authorities the right to appeal.
Provincial Health Secretary Carolina Centeno responded to the news by saying that officials were "respectful of the rule of law and judicial processes."
"When the time comes, we will answer in such a way," Centeno said in a post on Twitter. "The law is a law approved by the representatives of the people. From the provincial government, we are going to continue promoting this right to protect women and pregnant people."
Soledad Deza, a lawyer from Tucumán Province, said the injunction “has no legal basis [and] is destined to fail.”
Deza told the AFP news agency that “Argentina is a federal country, so it would not be legitimate for Chaco to have a lower standard of human rights than the rest of the provinces.”
"What that implies, in legal terms, is to ignore constitutional supremacy in our form of political organisation," she said.
To resolve the dispute, the case could go through various courts, from the Chaco Appeals Chamber to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Deza acknowledged, however, that the wheels of justice "are slow in Argentina" and expressed concerns that anti-abortion campaigners could seek to delay the legislation's introduction even further with a series of legal actions.