11-Year-Old in Argentina Forced to Have C-Section After Being Denied Abortion
An 11-year-old rape survivor was forced to give birth by C-section at 23 weeks pregnant after requests for an abortion were stalled by authorities and medical professionals for over five weeks. The baby is not expected to survive.
The girl, called “Lucía” to protect her identity, was raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner. Lucía and her two older sisters had been placed in their grandmother’s care in 2015 after the older sisters were abused by their mother’s partner.
Rape is one of the only exceptions to Argentina’s restrictive abortion laws, and even then abortion is only permissible when the mother’s life is deemed to be in danger. However, health and hospital officials can object to perform the procedure if it conflicts with their personal beliefs.
Lucía tried to take her life twice upon learning she was pregnant. She was admitted to a local hospital in the Tucumán province a week later, and after discovering the self-inflicted lesions, she was placed in state care.
Soon after being admitted to the hospital, Lucía and her mother asked for an abortion, where the girl reportedly told a hospital psychologist: “I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.”
The request was delayed for more than five weeks, at which point the girl was over 23 weeks pregnant. Complicating the request was the debate over who was the girl’s guardian, as her grandmother was her legal guardian until her partner was arrested for the rape. Several doctors also refused to perform the abortion due to personal beliefs. Several anti-abortion activists were also allowed to visit the hospital.
With no action being taken, Lucía’s family contacted Ni Una Menos and other women’s organizations. They organized representation for the girl and filed emergency lawsuits in a family court. The judge ordered the hospital to take immediate action.
Officials decided to perform a C-section, as an abortion was deemed too risky given the girl’s age, slight frame, and stage of pregnancy. The doctor who performed the procedure, Cecilia Ousset, has accused the governor of Tucumán province of using the girl for political purposes by delaying the procedure.
Activists are calling the forced C-section the “worst kind of cruelty for this child,” and have called such anti-choice politics “torture.”
The case has sparked renewed protests and calls for the legalization of abortion, which was narrowly shot down in the Senate last year. A similar case in a northern province in which a 12-year-old girl was also forced to give birth via C-section for the baby to survive only 4 days has sparked further outrage and mobilization among women’s rights groups.