A decision by Mexico health officials is protecting an unborn baby’s life after its young mother was sexually assaulted, became pregnant and tried to obtain an abortion.
The Guardian reports the 13-year-old girl became pregnant by a family acquaintance in May. Initially, the crime against her was considered rape, but a judge recently ruled that it was sexual coercion, the report states.
As a result of the judge’s decision, local health officials denied the young girl’s request to have an abortion, according to the report. In the Mexican state of Sonora where she lives, abortion is illegal except in cases of rape and danger to the mother’s life.
Lawyers representing the teen said she is almost 12 weeks pregnant. Right now, they said her family is thinking about going to Mexico City, where abortion on demand is legal through 12 weeks, to have the abortion.
Lawyer Regina Tames told the Star Tribune, “She has the right as the victim of sexual aggression to end the pregnancy. The classification of the crime doesn’t matter.”
The young teen reported the abuse to the police immediately after the assault, and medical evidence indicates that she was subjected to sexual violence, The Telegraph reports. However, the judge ruled that the crime was not rape; according to the ruling, the man deceived and seduced the girl into having sex, the report states. He faces a charge of illegal sex with a minor.
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Here’s more from The Guardian:
[H]uman rights advocates say the decision violates federal health regulations introduced earlier this year which guarantee rape victims unrestricted access to safe abortion services – regardless of where they live and whether the crime was reported or not.
The new regulation should supersede state restrictions, but it has left health providers uncertain about who to obey, according to Alex Ali, a lawyer for the Group for Information on Reproductive Choice (Gire) which is representing the victim. “The new regulation requires health services to provide abortions for any woman or girl who says she has been raped, without any other requirements. This has been enough to convince authorities in other states with the same criminal code, so why not in Sonora? It’s down to political will,” he said.
Mexico has the highest reported incidence of sexual abuse, violence and murder against children under 14 among the OECD countries. One in four girls is sexually assaulted before the age of 18, according to the latest survey by the Executive Commission of Attention to Victims (CEAV). In 2008 Mexico City became the first place in the country to allow women in their first trimester unobstructed access to abortion services. In response, Sonora was one of 16 states to immediately tighten restrictions on terminations.
Sexual assault is a horrible crime, and its victims deserve the best care and protection society can provide. However, abortion often is pushed on rape victims who become pregnant. Some support groups for victims of sexual assault have asked the public to stop assuming that victims who become pregnant need abortions. Studies have found between 73 percent and 85 percent of rape victims who became pregnant did not have abortions.
When a woman becomes pregnant from sexual assault, the unborn baby is a second victim of the attack. An abortion kills that innocent unborn child, and it also can further traumatize the woman. Research from the Elliot Institute found that an abortion often does not help a rape victim put the assault behind her, as many people assume. Many victims reported feeling pressured into the abortion by a family member or health care worker, and, after they had the abortion, felt even more traumatized by it.