She was just 10 when she was allegedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather, Gilberto Benitez, a man she should have been able to trust. A team of physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists concluded that the child was at a
“risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, a high risk of endometrial infection and a slew of other systemic risks to her not fully developed reproductive health system.”
But the girl was denied an abortion by her own government, despite doctor’s orders. Because article 4 of the Constitution of Paraguay guarantees the protection of life from the moment of conception.
Case of 10-year-old rape victim ignites abortion debate in Paraguay pic.twitter.com/yYe1g48Pbw— ????? ?????? (@s_naluvayko) July 12, 2015
What Paraguayan law appears to not make clear is how little it cares for the protection of life once the child is actually born. Because if the physical and psychological wellbeing of this young girl was of any concern to them, they would have granted her an abortion.
As a majority Catholic country, Paraguay’s strict anti=abortion laws allow a pregnancy to be terminated only if the mother’s health is at risk. But this child’s health was at risk, and still she was denied.
This past Thursday, the girl, now 11, gave birth by cesarean section at a Red Cross Hospital in Paraguay. She has had to endure sexual assault, pregnancy, childbirth, and a serious surgical procedure, all before her body was developed enough to properly cope.
Meanwhile, her rapist is still awaiting trial, and is yet to be charged or punished in any way. But the girl’s mother, who had done everything in her power to protect her daughter’s interests after discovering the pregnancy, has been charged with negligence.
The girl and her new baby are doing well, which is of some comfort. Amnesty International says she is “lucky to be alive,” especially considering the number of adolescent girls who die each year due to complications from a too-early pregnancy: 70,000. And a much higher number—2 million girls under 14—gives birth every year.
This is a grievous miscarriage of justice, in every way.