The International Association of Bioethics (IAB) is thrilled to announce the selection of the inaugural winner of the Service to Others Award, Dr. Soledad Deza.

Please join us during the World Congress of Bioethics, this Sunday, June 21, 2020, at noon (Eastern time) for the Award Ceremony. We invite you to tune in for Dr. Deza’s acceptance speech, highlighting the importance of her work.

This new Award is meant to “recognizes individuals who have made exemplary contributions to international bioethics through their impact on society, based on activism or service, despite challenges and obstacles, or under unfavorable circumstances”. The IAB Board of Directors selected Dr. Deza for her achievements in the face of great challenges and her exceptional contribution to the promotion of women’s rights. It is the hope of the Board that this Award will bring international visibility to her important work.

Dr. Deza is an Argentinian feminist lawyer and women’s rights activist. She is the President of Mujeres X Mujeres, a non-governmental feminist organization committed to the defense of women’s human rights and the eradication of violence in all interpersonal relationships. For 5 years she was the Legal Coordinator of ‘Catholics for the Right to Decide’ in Argentina.

Dr. Deza practises law in Tucumán, one of the most conservative provinces of Argentina. She has been representing women unjustly prosecuted for miscarriages and legal abortions. In 2016 she became known nationwide as the lawyer of Belen, a woman who was jailed after being accused of murder following a miscarriage. Belen’s case became a landmark in the battle for legal abortion, showing the grave misconduct of medical and legal officers.

In 2017, Dr. Deza argued another important abortion case against several medical doctors who obstructed the right to legal abortion of a woman carrying an anencephalic foetus. Although Argentinian law allows such an abortion for medical reasons, it was arbitrarily denied. Due to Dr. Deza’s intervention, the woman was finally allowed to end her pregnancy and an investigation was conducted regarding the unlawful obstruction of her reproductive rights. Dr. Deza reached the federal Supreme Court in the quest for public accountability of medical practitioners and public officers who interfere with women’s rights.

Despite great challenges and obstacles, she has helped many women in vulnerable situations, who did not have the means to pay for quality legal assistance. She is a leading voice in the current debate over legal abortion. Her work has advanced women’s rights and access to sexual and reproductive health care and has inspired future generations of lawyers

Dr. Deza is Professor of Legal Sociology at the National University of Tucumán, where she serves as a member of the Observatory for Gender and Diversity Rights in the School of Law and Social Sciences. She also teaches Legal Medicine at the University of San Pablo de Tucumán. She directs research projects on the conservative judicialization of sexual autonomy and on conscientious objection in public health. Her academic papers study the problem of women’s access to health in light of cultural barriers, stigma and stereotypes prevalent within healthcare teams that do not embrace a human rights approach.