An 11-year-old girl who fell pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s partner has undergone a caesarean section in Tucumán province, despite both the child and her mother having previously requested the pregnancy be legally interrupted.
Reports in local outlets say the minor underwent the C-section in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the Hospital del Este “Eva Perón” in the city of Banda del Río Salí, Tucumán province.
Both the girl and her mother had requested a legal interruption of pregnancy (ILE, Interrupción legal del embarazo), the Tucumán a las 7 website reported. However, instead a C-section was carried out, apparently in breach of the victim’s rights under the Criminal Code.
According to Tucumán a las 7, a statement from the provincial health system yesterday said it had ordered the hospital’s director Dr. Elizabeth Avila to carry out “the necessary procedures in order to save the two lives."
Local outlets reported a baby, which was in its 23rd week of gestation, was delivered weighing 600 grammes. It is now in an incubator inside the neonatal unit of the hospital. It is unknown if it will survive.
According to reports, demonstrators gathered outside the hospital to demand the pregnancy be continued to term, prior to the operation being carried out.
A report in Clarín, citing one of the doctors who carried out the intervention, said that they had received threats after carrying out the C-section but that the mother was in good health.
The medical professional said those involved had declared themselves “conscientious objectors,” in order to carry out the procedure. The doctor said a C-section had been necessary because an intervention could not be carried out vaginally.
In an interview with Radio Nacional, Cecilia Ousset, a specialist who was present during the birth, said: "I believe that [Governor of Tucumán] Juan Manzur, due to an electoral issue, prevented the legal interruption of the pregnancy and forced to the child to give birth.” She described the situation as “torture."
The pregnancy was first discovered two months ago, after an appointment at a primary health care centre in eastern Tucumán. The child had gone to the medical centre with pains in the her stomach, and after questioning, she revealed she had been raped by her grandmother’s partner. Doctors later confirmed she was 16 weeks pregnant.
According to the Noticias Argentinas news agency, after filing an ILE, the victim told a psychologist that she wanted to have the right to abort the pregnancy, saying: "I want them to take out what the old man put in me." The procedure to request a legal abortion took seven weeks, though, as doctors invoked their right to conscientious objection.
Soledad Deza, from the NGOs Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (“Catholics for the Right to Decide”) and Women X Women (“Mujeres X Mujeres”), said that there had been a “meticulously directed … conservative political action, initiated by the Executive branch and validated by the public prosecutor, to try walk back rights in Tucumán.”
Lawyer Florencia Vallino, a member of the Andhes human rights organisation who has represents the young girl's family, criticised "the series of violations of rights" and “unjustified delays” in enacting the legal ILE protocol.
"The State is responsible for torturing Lucia," said a statement from the #NiUnaMenos feminist organisation.
The ILE protocol is enacted via Article 86 of the Criminal Code (1921), the so-called ‘FAL ruling’ by the Supreme Court (2012) and guidelines on the legal interruption of pregnancy issued by the Ministry of Health in 2015.
Tucumán is the only province in the country that has not adhered to the ILE protocol, Clarín reports. Authorities have previously declared it a “pro-life province.”
Last year, a bill to legalise abortion up to 14 weeks was adopted by national Chamber of Deputies but defeated in the Senate.