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Abortion in Argentina, when understood as induced, is considered a crime against a life and a person; it can be punished with one to 15 years in prison for anyone that induces an abortion. On the other side, a 1921 law allows it to be performed in cases of rape or when a woman’s life is in danger.
A 65-year-old man raped a girl and then authorities refused to allow her the abortion to which she was entitled. A doctor declared in court that Lucía faced “high obstetric risk” should her pregnancy be allowed to continue.
As the Guardian reports, the authorities ignored repeated requests for an abortion from the child, called “Lucía” to protect her identity, as well as her mother and a number of Argentine women’s right activists. After 23 weeks of pregnancy, she had to undergo a procedure similar to a caesarean section on Tuesday. The baby is unlikely to survive. The move has been described as the “worst kind of cruelty for this child” and has been blamed on an anti-choice strategy in the country to force girls to carry their pregnancies to term.
Lucía told the psychologist at the hospital to which she was admitted after two suicide attempts: “I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.”
When Lucía’s pregnancy was discovered, the child was admitted to the Eva Perón hospital outside the provincial capital city of Tucumán. Gustavo Vigliocco, Tucumán’s health secretary, insisted the child did not want an abortion — a claim denied by activists who had access to court proceedings. “I am close to both the child and her mother. The child wants to continue her pregnancy. We are considering the risks but she has a large contexture, she weighs more than 50 kilos,” Vigliocco said in a radio interview.
Cecilia Ousset, the doctor who performed the procedure alongside her husband and fellow physician, Jorge Gijena, said: “We saved the life of an 11-year-old girl who was tortured for a month by the provincial health system.”
The case outraged women’s rights activists in Argentina:
Writer Claudia Piñeiro tweeted on Wednesday: “There are those who tortured an 11-year-old rape victim in Tucumán. It’s dangerous they have such power and that we were not able to prevent it.”
Mariana Carbajal, the journalist and feminist activist who originally broke Lucía’s story in the progressive daily Página/12, tweeted: “Tucumán treated her like a receptacle, like an incubator.”
Soledad Deza, of the Women for Women Association, said Lucía’s case was not one of conscientious objection by doctors. “Regrettably, what we have here is a conservative action stemming from the executive branch,” Deza told Página/12. “Abortion is a legal option in the case of abuse or risk to life. The state has to ensure the procedure. Here there was the worst kind of cruelty with this child.”