Rosa (2003) – Nicaragua
9 Year-Old Rape Victim Denied Legal Abortion for Weeks
Rosa was 8 when she was raped in November 2002 by a neighbour. She was living with her parents in a farming town in the central highlands of Costa Rica because her parents had illegally crossed the border to harvest sugarcane and coffee. She became pregnant, but even though abortion to protect a woman’s health is legal in Costa Rica, social workers persuaded the family that Rosa should carry the child to term, failing to inform them about the serious risks to their child if she brought a pregnancy to term.
It took a week to convince Costa Rica to issue a passport allowing the family to go back to Nicaragua – where at the time, abortion was legal to protect a woman’s life. But Nicaragua’s ministers of health and family services urged the family to let Rosa give birth, and the Catholic Church promised to provide full care and housing for the infant. The family was worried that nine months of pregnancy would kill their only daughter, and requested a medical consultation to comply with Nicaraguan law. The state-sponsored panel of doctors decided that either an abortion or a continued pregnancy carried severe risks. (In fact, full-term pregnancy is far riskier.) The family was given a choice, and Rosa and her parents opted for an abortion. The family went to a private hospital, where Rosa was turned away, crying, after doctors refused to treat her. Meanwhile, the government threatened to prosecute anyone who helped her. Three private doctors separately contacted the women’s group and offered to provide the abortion on condition of anonymity. The next day, Feb. 20, the women’s group took Rosa and her parents to a private clinic where she took the pill that induced the abortion. There were no medical complications.
Source: Girl, 9, in Abortion Rights Furor, March 23, 2003, Los Angeles Times