An 11-year-old girl in Asuncion, Paraguay gave birth on Thursday after having become pregnant by rape and it has again created debate in the country about abortion. Paraguay, a strongly Catholic country, does not allow abortions unless the life of the mother is considered to be endangered.
Each day in the country there are on average two girls between 10 to 14 who give birth, most of whom are pregnant by a rape. In the case of the 11-year-old girl who gave birth Thursday, she was allegedly raped by her mother’s (now former) boyfriend. A panel including doctors, psychologists and judical officals was convened to assess the danger of the girl giving birth but it ruled, as the panels almost always do, that the birth must do ahead.
However, girls are up to 4 times more likely to die during pregancy or childbirth than adults. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that for females between the ages of 15-19, fully 4 to 8 years older than the girl who gave birth today, complications during pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death globally. The younger the pregnant girl, the greater likelihood of death.
Amnesty International is one of numerous organizations that has urged the Paraguayan government to allow pregnant girls to have an abortion. In a statement Amnesty released today, their Americas Director, Erika Guevara, called an 11-year-old girl being forced to give birth “terrifying.”
“Only time will tell the true extent of the physical and psychological consequences of her tragic ordeal,” she wrote. “It is terrifying that her story will remain all too common unless Paraguay does more to protect victims of sexual violence, decriminalise abortion and guarantee the availability of modern contraceptives and access to information about sexual and reproductive rights.”
An Asuncion radio station interviewed the director of the Red Cross hospital where the girl gave birth. Dr. Mario Villalba said she had a programmed cesarean. “A baby girl, weighing 3.5 kilos, was born without any complications or anomalies,” Dr Villalba said.
“The post-operative recovery is going very well.”