“I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.”
This was reportedly what an 11-year-old girl from Argentina, raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend, told doctors after they discovered she was 19 weeks pregnant.
Her request was in fact legal. In Argentina, rape is considered a valid reason for females to terminate their pregnancy. But regardless of the law, the girl, referred to as “Lucia,” was denied of this right.
After Lucia and her mother approached doctors to perform the abortion, they refused. Reportedly due to their personal beliefs, while some claimed it was too risky. According to The New York Times, Lucia’s lawyers revealed that “Instead of arranging for her to terminate the pregnancy, officials at the hospital gave Lucía drugs that accelerated the development of the fetus.” Celia Debono, the Argentina coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights, said, “These were all delaying tactics to pass the time and force the girl to give birth.” She added, “They said they were giving her vitamins when they were giving her medication to mature the fetus.”
Furthermore, local officials and activists were said to be actively taking steps to prevent Lucia from pushing through with the procedure. Fernanda Marchese, the executive director of Human Rights and Social Studies Lawyers of Northeastern Argentina, told NYT that “The hospital also allowed anti-abortion activists to visit Lucía’s hospital room, where they urged her to have the baby, warning that she otherwise would never get to be a mother.”
It was only after relatives of the girl sent an email to the group Ni Una Menos that Lucia had help. After lawyers from the group filed emergency lawsuits, a court order instructed the hospital to perform an abortion at once. A pair of private-sector doctors, Cecilia Ousset and her husband José Gigena, agreed to terminate the pregnancy. Because the pregnancy was so far along, the doctors were forced to perform a C-section. “When we were faced with this girl, I almost became sick, my knees turned weak,” Dr. Ousset said. “She wasn’t developed and was playing with toys and her mom.” In the operating room, Dr. Ousset revealed, “The girl’s life was at risk,” and experts say the baby delivered is unlikely to survive.
Prior this, NYT reports that there was a similar case in another northern province, in which a 12-year-old girl faced a similar situation. She had undergone C-section to deliver a baby who only survived four days.
an 11 year old girl from Argentina who was raped was forced to give birth earlier this week. This is what happens when pro life movements “win.” This is torture. I can’t even read about this without crying and feeling sick. #NiñasNoMadres ?
— Sophie Chun (@hiitssoapy) March 1, 2019
Girl (11) asks health provider, after trying to commit suicide, after being raped by grandmother’s partner (65) to “remove what the old man put inside me’ which by law she was entitled to. Instead, authorities forced her to undergo risky C-section. Outraged #NiñasNoMadres https://t.co/reRk15WVHi
— Clara Alemann (@calemann) February 28, 2019
— Ni Una Menos UK (@niunamenos_uk) February 28, 2019
“In the north of Argentina, there are lots of Lucías and there are lots of professionals who turn their back on them,” Dr. Ousset said.
Abortion remains to be one of the most controversial subjects across different parts of the world. Those against it call themselves pro-life. Indeed, after news of Lucia’s case went out, those who supported the doctors’ actions argued the procedure saved two lives.
Honestly, I don’t see how. Here is an 11-year-old girl who was denied her right. She suffered for weeks, with people aggressively telling her what she can or can’t do with her body. And even if her body heals, she’ll forever suffer the psychological repercussions of that traumatic experience. I think it’s tragic how in this day and age, society still thinks it has every right to control women and dictate what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
— angelina… (@AntziAngelina) March 1, 2019
But what’s done is done. I only pray Lucia and her baby will survive. But I also hope this will never happen again. In our country, I know the legalization of abortion is a long shot, even in cases of rape. We’re still very much a dominantly conservative bunch. May this case help open some stubborn pro-life’s minds.
Art by Marian Hukom
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