A 12-year-old girl gave birth to twins in Argentina after local authorities refused to have an abortion despite being raped.
The authorities in Jujuy forced the child to remain pregnant until the twins were safely born by caesarean section.
In Argentina, the abortion laws are extremely strict, the procedure for rape was only legalized last year.
Devout Catholic Latin America is home to several countries considered to be the world’s toughest abortion restrictions.
The 12-year-old girl’s name is unknown, as is the attacker’s identity, but outraged medics have condemned the authorities’ decision to deny her a legal abortion.
The Jujuy Right to Rule Division of Health Professions issued a damning statement on how it was handling the case:
“Despite the fact that the National Directorate of Sexual Health made an offer to resolve the situation immediately and to preserve the physical and mental health of the girl, the authorities responsible for the local Ministry of Health rejected the proposal and decided not to guarantee it . “Girls have their right to ILE (statutory abortion),” the statement said.
It was released along with a comment on social media accusing the state of “grimly perpetuating” the inequalities that abused girls face when it was supposed to protect them.
A 12-year-old rape victim was reportedly given a caesarean section after being denied an abortion last Sunday at the Hector Quintana Maternity and Children’s Hospital. A local right to decision branch accused authorities of deliberately delaying responses to the girl’s situation until she was far enough into pregnancy for the twins to survive outside of their womb
The girl was reportedly given a caesarean section last Sunday at Hector Quintana Hospital for Mothers and Children.
Health professionals opting for the right accused authorities of deliberately delaying the response to the girl’s situation until it was far enough into pregnancy for the twins to survive outside of their womb.
Argentina’s abortion laws do not set deadlines for legal abortions, according to Human Rights Watch, but government and health officials often set arbitrary limits.
The 12-year-old girl lives in Monterrico, a city in northwest Argentina, about 37 km from San Salvador de Jujuy El Comerico.
She has now been placed in the care of the child ombudsman due to the “legal situation” of her parents, according to the declaration by Health Professionals for the Right to Decision.
No further information was released about the girl’s case, including a response from local authorities.
The incident is just the latest to highlight the difficulties of legal abortion in Argentina, where the procedure remains highly controversial.
Currently, abortion is covered by Section 86 of the country’s 1921 Criminal Code.
It stipulates that pregnancy can only be legally terminated if it endangers the life or health of the woman. However, the legislation was updated in 2019 to give rape victims access to legal abortions.
In all other cases, abortion is a criminal offense that can be punished with up to 15 years in prison.
The prison sentence for a self-induced abortion or consent to the procedure is up to four years.
Abortion was part of huge protests in Argentina under the slogan #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman / Girl Less), which started as a demonstration against feminicide but has expanded to include issues such as abortion and the sexual abuse of women. Pictured: A protester in Buenos Aires in 2018 [File photo]
In addition to abortion, doctors, surgeons, midwives and pharmacists can also be prosecuted.
In 2018, the Argentine Senate rejected a bill that would have completely decriminalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Access to the procedure remains difficult even for those who have been granted access to a legal abortion Human rights monitoring.
An August 2020 report by the group found that women seeking an abortion in Argentina faced major obstacles, including arbitrarily imposed pregnancy restrictions, abuse by health workers, stigma and fear of prosecution.
The situation forces many women into illegal abortions, which can be dangerous and even life threatening.
Activists hope the law will be relaxed after the country’s President Alberto Fernandez, who took office in December 2019, promised to do so.
The issue was part of huge protests in Argentina under the slogan #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman / Girl Less), which started as a demonstration against feminicide but has expanded to include issues such as abortion and the sexual abuse of women.
In the province of Jujuy, where the 12-year-old lives, 685 adolescent births were registered in public hospitals that year TodoJujuy, a local media company.
Of these, 20 of the mothers were rape victims between the ages of 10 and 14.
The shocking numbers are actually a decrease from the last two years, which is believed to be due in part to laws aimed at tackling sexual health issues.