Vatican Defends Brazil Bishop Who Excommunicated Doctors Over Girl’s Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Vatican Defends Brazil Bishop Who Excommunicated Doctors Over Girl’s Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 9
, 2009

Brasilia, Brazil ( — Catholic Church officials are defending a Brazilian bishop who excommunicated the mother, doctors and others involved in the abortion of twin babies a nine-year-old girl had. The girl became pregnant after allegedly being subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, who is now in custody.

The girl, from Sao Paulo and who has not been identified, was found to be four months pregnant when she was taken to a local hospital after complaining of stomach pains.

Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the archbishop of Olinda and Recife, was upset the abortion was done.

"The law of God is higher than any human laws," he said after issuing the excommunication. "When a human law — that is, a law enacted by human legislators — is against the law of God, that law has no value. The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion have incurred excommunication."

Now, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the head of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for Bishops, told the Italian daily La Stampa that Sobrinho made the right decision.

"It is a sad case but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated," he said.

He added that "life must always be protected, the attack on the Brazilian church is unjustified."

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, criticized the Brazilian bishop saying that, as a Catholic, he deeply regretted the archbishop’s "conservative attitude".

"It is not possible to allow a little girl raped by her stepfather to have that child because it could put her life at risk," he claimed. "I believe that in this sense, medicine is more correct than the church."

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, as it is in most of the other predominantly Catholic countries of South America, except in the rare cases when a woman is a victim of rape or incest or her life is in danger from the pregnancy.

Doctors said they suggested the abortion because they didn’t think the girl’s young body would be able to handle the pregnancy. The babies were 15 weeks along at the time of the abortion.

"We don’t know if she will develop the pregnancy up to the end because of the structure of her body. It is a big risk for her,” Sergio Cabral of the University of Pernambuco’s Amaury de Medeiros Integrated Health Centre told the Diario de Pernambuco newspaper. "She doesn’t have a pelvis able to support a gestation of twins."

Brazilian media say the young girl was raped at the hands of her stepfather, who is 23, and that he has abused the girl since she was six. He also allegedly abused the girl’s physically disabled 14-year-old sister.

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