Peru congressman: Abortion lobby using pregnant rape victim to try to legalize abortion

young girl abuse Credit: Shutterstock

Congressman Alejandro Muñante, one of the spokesmen for the Life and Family Caucus in Peru, charged that groups promoting abortion used the tragic case of an 11-year-old girl who was allegedly sexually abused by her stepfather in order to promote legal abortion.

“What I see is the utilization of this case by the abortion lobby. I’m not really seeing a genuine concern. Nothing is said about the protection and accompaniment of this minor, not only at this time but also in what happens to her later,” the legislator said in an Aug. 10 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.

“This always happens. When people talk about a raped girl who gets pregnant, afterwards we don’t see that these people — who say they care about the state of the minor — are accompanying her. That is what concerns me, the utilization of these cases to promote abortion,” he pointed out.

On Aug. 9, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) reported on the case of an 11-year-old girl who was a victim of abuse in the city of Iquitos in the Amazonian region of Loreto in the northeast part of the country.

The National Maternal Perinatal Institute of the Ministry of Health of Peru since reported that a second medical board authorized a therapeutic abortion on the girl, who was 18 weeks pregnant, a victim of rape.

In a statement issued Saturday, the institute said that the decision was made by the second medical board that evaluated the case, meeting in Lima, arguing that the procedure is "to avoid serious or permanent harm to their physical and mental health."

"Consequently, the corresponding medical procedure was initiated, and the patient's clinical progress is kept under strict surveillance," the institute said.

The suspect in the crime is the girl’s stepfather, a 41-year-old man who, although he is being prosecuted for rape, was released with restrictions. On Aug. 10, the MIMP requested the Superior Court of Justice of Loreto to order his arrest.

Muñante said he agrees with the MIMP’s request and that “life imprisonment [is the penalty for] the person responsible for all this execrable act.”

“The rapist should serve life imprisonment. That is already established in our penal code,” he pointed out.

In addition, the lawmaker told ACI Prensa that on Aug. 9 he sent a letter to the Ministry for Women urging it to “spare no effort in giving maximum attention to the care of the minor.”

“Faced with the facile solution of some NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] that promote abortion, we are rather concerned with giving the greatest extent of coverage for the care of the minor and that the state would really fulfill its work of tutelage, of protecting minors through social programs,” the spokesperson for the congressional Life and Family caucus emphasized.

Pressure to perform an abortion

A therapeutic abortion was denied to the minor on Aug. 4 by a medical board at the Loreto Regional Hospital, rejecting the request that had been sent to it by the Loreto Special Protection Unit of the MIMP.

In addition to the Ministry of Women, the United Nations had urged the Peruvian state to reconsider the application of this practice. Peruvian feminist organizations that promote the legalization of abortion have also joined the request.

Carlos Polo, director of the Population Research Institute’s office for Latin America, told ACI Prensa in an Aug. 10 interview that today “they’re concerned about Mila because there is a lobby that wants its abortion law.” 

“Once the abortion law is obtained, they will forget about girls like Mila,” he said.

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Muñante agreed that international organizations and NGOs “are trying to get Peru to use the concept of therapeutic abortion as a kind of ‘showcase’ for all cases of abortion that they want to be legalized. For example, if the mental or emotional or social health of the woman is affected, they now intend to perform therapeutic abortions.”

“Let’s remember that therapeutic abortion in our country, although it is true is decriminalized, is only used for serious cases of grave harm to the health or life of the mother,” the congressman explained.

Abortion is illegal in Peru and is considered a crime that deserves to be punished. However, since 1924, therapeutic abortion is a crime that “is not punishable” — that is, it doesn’t carry a prison sentence. According to article 119 of the penal code, for abortion to be nonpunishable, it must be the only means to save the life of the pregnant woman or to avoid serious and permanent harm to her health.

In this regard, Polo stated that “from a medical point of view, as long as both lives can be saved, Mila’s case does not conform to the therapeutic abortion protocol.”

He also explained that “obviously in the case of Mila, there are other means to ensure her life and health.”

“The two medical boards required by the protocol should indicate the reason why the only means should be abortion and affirm that there is no other alternative,” he said.

Muñante pointed out that in the examination and deliberation of the medical board “there is no room for public opinion or that of a journalist, a judge, or a prosecutor” but rather that the group of specialists forms “the highest authoritative deliberative body in terms of performing an abortion or not.”

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“Obviously, no one would want a family member to go through that, but when we are faced with a case of this nature, we’re no longer talking about a single life, but two lives, and the state has to try to safeguard both,” the parliamentarian said.

“What a therapeutic abortion really means is becoming blurred,” he stressed.

Defending both lives

Polo of the Population Research Institute for Latin America emphasized that “abortion is not a right.”

“Abortion will kill a healthy child already conceived, who has a constitutionally recognized right to life. He cannot be discriminated against and killed because of the way he was conceived, since he is not to blame for his father’s crimes,” he said.

Muñante also pointed out that, after the tragedy of the rape of the minor, “there are two children to save and attend to.” 

“That of the 11-year-old and the one she carries in her womb,” he said. “The solution to this tragedy cannot be to kill one of them.”

Polo also noted that abortion cannot be considered “health care” in any way, since this practice “will not cure or relieve the trauma of rape.”

“What she needs is medical care, psychological care, protection so she won’t be raped again; [she needs] financial help. Abortion will not ‘un-rape’ the girl. The already-conceived child needs the same care and attention and that his constitutionally recognized right to life be respected,” he continued.

One solution in these cases, he added, “is perhaps to give the unborn child up for adoption.”

Congressman Muñante said he believes that in Peru, “there should be a comprehensive policy for the safety of girls and adolescents” because “precisely in the wake of these cases it is seen that the vast majority of rapists are in the family circle itself.”

“There should be a red flag warning for local authorities to be able to monitor those families. Unfortunately, there is a lack of training, a lack of awareness. There is no comprehensive policy for the safety of girls,” he lamented.

The congressman noted that the pro-life caucus has introduced several bills in the Legislature for the protection of girls from sexual violence and that they have even been passed.

In November 2022, the government enacted the “Law that promotes temporary protection services for victims of family and sexual violence.” The objective of the law is to improve temporary shelters in order to guarantee quality service for the protection and reintegration of women and members of the family that are victims of violence. The law also promotes the “implementation of temporary shelters by regional governments and local governments.”

In March, Muñante added, the “Law promoting the Creation of the National Observatory for Comprehensive Health Oversight of Pregnant Mothers and Newborns” was promulgated in order to reduce maternal, fetal, perinatal, and neonatal mortality in the country.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA. This article was updated on August 14.

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