Buenos Aires Times

argentina ABORTION DEBATE

Baby of raped 12-year-old girl in Jujuy born amid controversey

Hot debate hit the province when the young girl sought a legal procedure

Friday 18 January, 2019
Protesters for and against legal abortion in Argentina meet outside a Jujuy hospital.
Protesters for and against legal abortion in Argentina meet outside a Jujuy hospital. Foto:El Tribuno Jujuy

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The child of a raped 12-year-old girl in Jujuy was born via a caesarean section on Friday morning. The procedure was performed to interrupt the 23-week pregnancy after the young girl’s case sparked heated debate in the northern province.

While the girl's parents had requested an abortion be performed, they encountered resistance from pro-life groups in Jujuy, an area where the issue is particularly divisive. Doctors opted to interrupt the pregnancy with a c-section rather than carry out a full abortion procedure.

A neighbour raped the girl and "threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone what happened," the girl's lawyer Marta Paniagua told reporters.

Her c-section was carried out at 8.30am Friday morning by the medical team of the Materno Infantil hospital “Héctor Quintana.” The baby weighed 703 grams, the province of Jujuy said in an announcement. Once an infant weighs 700 grams, it is likely to develop fully and without complications. The health of the mother was also a central consideration in whether or not to perform the operation.

“The baby was born alive, is in the neonatology unit and will be adopted if no complications occur. The baby is not in contact with the mother,” Gustavo Bouhid, the Jujuy Health Minister, told FutuRock FM Radio. The website Qué Pasa Jujuy reported the girl will be named “Esperanza.”

Fundación Más Vida, a pro-life group, lodged an injunction in Jujuy courts on Wednesday to stop any medical intervention. After doctors refused to operate in order to terminate the girl’s pregnancy, Judges in Jujuy ordered that the c-section procedure be carried out for the mother’s sake.

The girl’s family spoke out against anti-abortion activists.

"Doctors and the Judiciary are again condemning an abused child,” a parent told reporters. "She is still within the timeframe to carry out the abortion and the continued pregnancy is also a risk to her life.”

In August, the Senate rejected a bill to legalise abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The lower house had already passed the measure, and President Macri signalled that he would sign it if it passed the upper house. While the voters in Buenos Aires supported the measure, pressures from rural provinces like Jujuy halted the proposed extension of abortion rights.

Laws still permit abortion when pregnancy threatens a woman’s health. Jujuy’s policy says legal abortion can only be performed within 22 weeks of gestation.

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