San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

11-Year-Old’s Pregnancy Renews Abortion Debate

GRANADA, Nicaragua – The abortiondebate that enveloped the countryearly last year in response to the pregnancyof a 9-year-old rape victim known as“Rosa” is heating up again, following therecent discovery of another young girlimpregnated by a rapist.“Rosa II,” an 11-year-old girl from animpoverished neighborhood in Managua,has been taken into government custodyand placed in the protective care of a shelterrun by advocacy group Casa Alianza,where she is receiving medical and psychologicalcounseling.The girl’s identity is being protectedbecause she is a minor and a rape victim,but she is reportedly in good physicalhealth despite being nine weeks pregnant.Police are searching for the girl’s stepfather,the suspected rapist, who disappearedearlier this month.Evelyn Palma, head lawyer for CasaAlianza, said police must discover thewhereabouts of the suspect for the investigationto proceed. In Nicaragua, suspectscannot be tried in absentia.UNDER Nicaraguan law, abortion isillegal, except in cases where the mother’slife is deemed to be at risk.Although Rosa II’s pregnancy is consideredhigh-risk because of her age, it hasyet to be determined life-threatening.The Nicaraguan Network of WomenAgainst Violence and several other nongovernmentalorganizations are lobbyingthe government to allow the abortion, aprocedure the victim’s grandmother alsosaid she in favor of, according to nationalmedia reports.THE original Rosa, a Nicaraguan girlwho became pregnant in Costa Rica andwas later taken to Nicaragua by her motherand stepfather, was last reported in goodhealth and recovering in an undisclosedlocation after undergoing a delicate andcontroversial abortion at a private clinic inManagua in early 2003 (TT, Feb. 28,2003). State and private health officials didnot agree on the level of risk the pregnancyposed to her young body.The Catholic Church of Nicaraguaresponded to news of the secretive abortionby issuing a blanket excommunicationof Rosa’s parents, the doctors who performedthe procedure and everyone elseinvolved.The church order prompted theSpanish feminist group Red Feminista tolaunch a solidarity campaign entitled“Excommunicate Me, Too.” Tens of thousandsof Catholics’ signatures from aroundthe world were collected and presented tochurch officials.

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