Excommunicated Doctor Hailed As Hero at Women's Health Conference

Brazilian Minister of Health Jose Gomes Temporao called on those in attendance at a national convention on women's health he hosted to acknowledge the "brilliant" work of the team of doctors who helped a 9-year-old girl abort twins. The doctor received a standing ovation.

As previously reported, the girl was found to be about 4 months pregnant after complaining of severe stomach pains. She became pregnant after being repeatedly raped by her stepfather who was apprehended and is now being held by Brazilian authorities.

Regional Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho excommunicated the medical team involved in the procedure and the child's mother, but not the step father accused of rape saying, "A graver act than rape is abortion, to eliminate an innocent life." The Vatican has since supported his decision.

Temporao has been very vocal in his criticism of the church and recently said doctors must put law before religion. "The question posed is very simple. There is a Brazilian law which states that a pregnancy can be interrupted in case of rape," Temporao said, "It is legitimate for the church to have its dogmas, but these dogmas must not be imposed on society as a whole," he continued.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also weighed in on the matter, questioning Sobrinho's decision and saying, "As a Christian and a Catholic, I find it deeply lamentable that a bishop of the Catholic Church has such a conservative attitude. In this case, the medical profession was more right than the church."