An 11-year-old Romanian rape victim has been flown to the United Kingdom for an abortion after she was refused one in her home country. The case has ignited a controversy that has put Orthodox Christian groups at odds with a Romanian Orthodox Church spokesman who said the case was exceptional and the decision to abort should be up to the girl’s family.
The girl was allegedly raped twice at the age of ten by a 19-year-old man while she stayed with his family at a village in the northeastern Romanian county of Neamt, the Telegraph says.
The girl’s pregnancy was not discovered until her child had reached 17 weeks, which is 3 weeks past the timeframe allowed under Romanian law for an abortion. The country allows abortions up until the 14th week of pregnancy and then only if the mother’s life is in danger or if the fetus suffers deformities.
The father of the girl said the alleged rapist had threatened her.
“He told my daughter that we would beat her if we found out what had happened, and that we would abandon her, so she kept quiet,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
The pregnancy was discovered, the father said, when she complained of stomach pains and was taken to the hospital.
Romania’s medical community, child rights groups, and its public have been divided by the issue.
Two medical panels have examined the girl, who is now 21 weeks pregnant. The first decided in favor of an abortion, while the second rejected an abortion and declared the pregnancy to be “natural.”
Vica Todosiciuc, head of the Cuza Voda maternity section in the north eastern city of Iasi, said the panel ignored concerns that the pregnancy resulted from rape because the rape had not been proven and because the penal code does not allow for any exceptions.
“This was a very difficult decision for the doctors to make,” Todosiciuc stated, the Telegraph says. "They searched for a medical reason which would allow them to authorize a termination, but none was found."
Constantin Stoica, a spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church, which is the largest church in the country, said the Orthodox Church regards abortion as a crime, but that this belief applies to normal circumstances and not to incest or rape. Mr. Stoica elaborated, saying that the girl was in “an exceptional situation which must be treated in an exceptional manner and the family is the only one to make this decision.”
Twenty different Orthodox groups in Romania oppose the abortion and had threatened to press charges against government officials had they approved one. The groups also promised to raise the child if the family lacks the resources to do so, according to the AP.
A wealthy person in Britain has paid for the cost of the abortion and the family’s airfare. In Britain, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.