The case of an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant due to rape has once again shaken Bolivia. The minor, at first, wanted to take advantage of the legal interruption of the pregnancy, but was dissuaded by the Catholic Church. Society has been divided into two camps while criticism rains against the religious who intervened, the journalists who reported that abortion was going to be performed and also against the Government and feminists.
The girl was admitted to a health service in the Bolivian region of Santa Cruz, waiting for one of the types of abortion that are allowed in the country: when the pregnancy is the result of rape, rape or is the product of a incestuous relationship. Abortion is also authorized when the life of the mother is at risk. The minor was raped by a 61-year-old man, who is the father of her stepfather. The abuses occurred during the ten months that he had to live with this man in a town in Santa Cruz, while his mother and stepfather worked in La Paz. The rapist is currently in prison. Six years ago, the girl’s older sister was also raped. This time the author was his own father, who also ended up imprisoned.
Some media covered the fact that the abortion was about to take place, which put the Catholic Church on alert. Several religious spoke with the girl’s mother and convinced her to desist from her purpose. The girl left the hospital and was taken to a Catholic reception center for girls in similar situations. According to one of the policemen who took charge of the case, the Church offered to pay a monthly payment to the family so that she would not interrupt her pregnancy.
In a statement, the religious institution stated that “the only solution is to save, care for and lovingly support both lives” and offered “welcome and care to the girl and the little creature in her womb, giving free hospitality at the Center for Adolescent Mothers Mother Mary, ensuring material, medical, psychological and spiritual support for motherhood and post-motherhood time ”.
The Minister of Government (Interior), Eduardo del Castillo, tweeted in response that “when an 11-year-old girl is forced to give birth as a result of rape, all her rights are being violated.” “We regret that some institutions feel they have the authority to prevent the legal interruption of a pregnancy under sobering and moral criteria,” he added. The Ombudsman, Nadia Cruz, went further. He pointed out that the actions of the Catholic Church were “criminal”, affirmed that he was “torturing a girl” and assured that he would report what happened to the Vatican.
Pro-life groups rely on the fact that the girl is five months pregnant, higher than the 13 weeks that are considered as a reference for the practice of legal abortions. As for the girl, she did not become aware of her pregnancy until an advanced stage of it. From a legal point of view, in any case, the time of pregnancy is indifferent.
The only requirements required by law are that there be a report of the rape and the consent of the mother or, if she is a minor, that of her guardians. However, on many occasions, doctors refuse to comply with the law and intervene with raped women and girls. From 2014 to today, 508 legal abortions have been performed, 48% of them to victims under 18 years of age.
In the past, the resistance of the courts to legal abortion was reflected in a series of requirements that ended up preventing the interruption. The feminist organizations asked the Constitutional Court for a simplification of the procedure, which was granted. But so far there is still resistance among doctors, encouraged by different churches. In 2018, a regulation tried to force specialists to perform abortions allowed by law, but the rejection of the health unions prevented its approval.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.