Lucia (2019) – Argentina
11-year old rape victim denied abortion and forced to give birth by C-section
“Lucia”, an 11-year-old victim of rape by her grandmother’s 65-year old partner was forced to gave birth in the province of Tucumán, Argentina on Feb 26, 2019, after she was denied an abortion by authorities and doctors for nearly five weeks. Lucia and her mother had repeatedly asked for an abortion during this time, but were repeatedly refused and delayed. The girl had begged officials to “remove what the old man put inside me.” Abortion is legal in Argentina in cases of rape, when the woman is mentally disabled, or if there is a serious risk to her health. Lucia clearly qualified for a legal abortion on two of these grounds, since her small size made carrying a pregnancy very risky.
Lucia also had attempted to commit suicide twice upon learning of her pregnancy in late January. She was hospitalized as a result of apparent self-inflicted lesions. A constant stream of people, including a priest and government officials, came to the hospital in February to coerce Lucía into giving birth. The priest even tried to bribe Lucia’s mother by offering to buy the infant from her.
In her 23rd week of pregnancy, a court order was issued granting permission for Lucia’s abortion, even though court intervention is not required under the law. But several doctors at Eva Perón Hospital refused to perform the abortion, exercising their “right” to conscientious objection. Two other doctors stepped in and performed a “micro” C-section, deciding an abortion was too risky for the girl because of her small size and the fact she was suffering from hypertension. (The baby was extracted alive but died 10 days later.) The two doctors who did the C-section were angry at the politicization of Lucia’s case.
Women’s rights activists also cited political reasons for the systemic violation of the girl’s rights, because Tucumán’s governor, Juan Manzur, used Lucia to push a political agenda. The provincial Secretary of Health, Gustavo Vigliocco, claimed to be personally involved and that the girl wanted to continue the pregnancy, also falsely claiming he himself “cannot not make any decision.” A doctor who performed the C-section, Dr. Cecilia Ousset, said: “We saved the life of an 11-year-old girl who was tortured for a month by the provincial health system. For electoral reasons they [the authorities] prevented the legal interruption of the pregnancy and forced the little girl to give birth.” Feminist activist Mariana Carbajal said the government treated Lucia “like a receptacle, like an incubator.”
As of April 2019, multiple cases are being prepared on behalf of Lucía and her family. Soledad Deza, an attorney at Catholics for the Right to Decide, has called on the state to investigate the provincial health minister, the head of the healthcare system, the director of the Eva Perón hospital, and Lucía’s doctor at the hospital, for participating in “a chain of obstruction and barriers to delay” the abortion. The family wants them to be convicted of their crimes.
Read full articles:
- Human Rights Watch, Sept 2020 (pg 60-61)
- Washington Post, Feb 28, 2019
- CNN.com, March 1, 2019
- Global News, Feb 28, 2019
- International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, Mar 5, 2019
- BuzzFeed News, April 13, 2019 (“How Doctors And The Church Conspired To Stop An 11-Year-Old Girl From Having An Abortion After Rape”)