Pregnant 10 Year Old Reignites Abortion Debate in Mexico
04/21/2010 - 16:00 ||
How exactly does a ten-year-old even become pregnant? That's the same question we were grappling with, and your worst assumptions about how this happened are unfortunately true. A little girl was raped by her stepfather (subsequently charged and in custody) and is now almost four months pregnant in Mexico.
Now, her case is seemingly being used by opponents of abortion rights as a political tool, rather than what it really is: A tragic case of abuse in which the needs of the child must be put first. Although abortion is legal in Mexico City, in the girl's home state of Quintana Roo, it is severely restricted after 90 days. The little girl is now just over 17 weeks pregnant, putting her past the cut off for a legal abortion by almost a month.
Advocacy groups are looking into charges that the girl and her family were not adequately informed of their right to an abortion. "We don't know what is happening, and the institution that is supposed to provide support and care for these minors hasn't been transparent. We're really asking for accountability," the director of the Information Group on Reproductive Choice, Maria Luisa Sanchez Fuentes, told CNN.
Quintana Roo State Attorney General Francisco Alor Quezada admitted that he does not know whether or not the local authorities ever informed the girl of her right to an abortion and noted that he did not know how far along the girl was in her pregnancy when he was first informed of the case over a month ago. Still, he insisted, "I do not think there is another instance in which the girl could be in better hands."
Meanwhile, child protective services officials in Quintana Roo released a statement last week confirming that both the girl and the fetus were in good health. But local state legislator Maria Hadad suspects that the girls doctor's are suppressing information, "It's not just a high-risk pregnancy. It's a pregnancy that puts the girl at risk."
The abortion debate has been fiercely fought in Mexico, a highly religious country. The Roman Catholic church vehemently opposed a 2007 law passed in Mexico City allowing unrestricted abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, and since then 17 more conservative states have passed laws "protecting life beginning at conception."