Argentine bishop calls for pro-life commitment after C-section on young girl

Pregnant teen Credit Photographeeeu Shutterstock CNA

After an 11-year-old rape victim in Argentina received a Caesarean section Wednesday, the local bishop has called for society to be committed to protecting life.

The girl was admitted Jan. 31 to the Eva Perón East Hospital in Banda del Río Salí, in the San Miguel de Tucumán metro area, due to some injuries attributed to suicidal behavior. It was then that she was found to be pregnant as the result of being raped by the partner of her grandmother, and she requested an abortion.

Argentine law prohibits abortion, except when the mother's life or health is in danger, or in cases of rape.

Family court judge Valeria Brand authorized an abortion for the girl after delays caused by uncertainty over who was the girl's legal guardian. Several local doctors refused to perform an abortion citing conscientious objection.

The girl ended up receiving a Caesarean section Feb. 27, about about 23-24 weeks of pregnancy, after doctors said there were too many risks associated with abortion in the case. The infant is alive, but is in poor health, weighs 1 lb 5 oz, and has little chance of survival.

In the wake of the case, Archbishop Carlos Alberto Sánchez of Tucumán called on society to be committed to protecting life. He encouraged the faithful "to be aware of this" and to care for the life "of every child, of every adolescent, of every elderly person, of every sick person," and daily "to protect, to care for, to serve, every human life, because every life has value."

Archbishop Sánchez recalled that "for us, believers, it is very important to be called together in prayer, but for this prayer to become a real commitment to protect every human life and defend every human life with passion, courage and with much generosity and dedication."

"May God bless you and may we be able to join in prayer always to be guardians of life," Archbishop
Sánchez concluded.

Both pro-life and pro-choice groups have been dissatisfied with how the girl's case was handled.

The pro-life group Doctors for Life of Tucumán "strongly and absolutely" repudiated the Caesarean section and expressed their support "to all healthcare personnel who categorically refused on a scientific and legal basis" to do the procedure, due to the grave health risks involved "at this gestational age"; some have said that delaying the procedure 20 days would help ensure the lives of both the girl and her child.

Pro-choice activists have protested the girl's inability to procure an abortion, and her delay in receiving  the Caesarean.

The case follows a similar one that took place in Jujuy, in which a 12-year-old girl said she had been raped by her neighbor, and was given a Caesarean section Jan. 18. Her baby, Esperanza, was born at 1 lb 8 oz, and died Jan. 22.  

A medical team had advised against the procedure due to the risk to the lives of mother and child. The pro-life organization Mas Vida charged that Esperanza's death was a homicide because "there was no medical reason to deny her the gestational formation she was lacking."

A bill to legalize abortion through the first 14 weeks of gestation narrowly passed the Chamber of Deputies last year, but was rejected by the Senate Aug. 9.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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