RAPE VICTIM DENIED AB0RTION IN PARAGUAY
Paraguay’s decision to deny a pregnant 10-year-old girl an abortion after she was allegedly raped by her stepfather has sparked a national debate over the country’s strict abortion law.
Paraguay’s Health Minister Antonio Barrios recently refused a request from the girl’s mother to terminate the pregnancy, but rights groups say the decision could put the girl’s health at risk.
The girl, who cannot be named, is more than five months pregnant.
In Paraguay, abortion is only allowed when the mother’s life is in danger. In all other cases the procedure is a crime.
The girl’s mother has been imprisoned, charged with breaching her duty of care.
The Health Minister said doctors and a psychologist were providing care to the girl.
He said health officials only knew about the girl’s case when she was already more than 20 weeks pregnant after she was brought to hospital by her mother complaining of stomach pains last month.
Paraguayan health authorities say even if an abortion were allowed, they would not go ahead because it could be risky for the girl at such a late stage in her pregnancy.
Paraguay’s influential Catholic Church has weighed into the debate, saying human life is sacred and begins at the moment of conception.
The girl’s mother reported last year that her husband was sexually abusing her daughter but the authorities took no action.
Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for the 42-year-old stepfather, who is on the run.
The case has put a spotlight on the taboo issue of incest in the conservative South American nation.
Two births a day occur among girls aged 10 to 14 in Paraguay, and many are the result of sexual abuse by relatives and stepfathers.
Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for teenage girls.
According to the World Health Organization, In Latin America the risk of maternal death is four times higher among teenagers under 16 compared to women in their early twenties.