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March-13-03

Catholic Church Revokes Decision to Punish Nine-Year-Old Rape Victim

After protest from feminists, Roman Catholic authorities in Managua, Nicaragua decided to backtrack from their decision to excommunicate a nine-year-old rape victim, her parents, and their doctors for terminating the child’s pregnancy, the Guardian reports. Spanish feminists delivered a petition with 26,000 signatures to the Vatican headquarters in Madrid last week to protest the decision of the Roman Catholic Church. The petition told the Church to excommunicate the petitioners along with the girl and her parents and doctors, as they all “contributed actively in making the interruption of the pregnancy possible,” according to the Guardian.

The girl became pregnant after being raped on the coffee plantation where she worked in Costa Rica. After much debate, she was granted an abortion by the Nicaraguan health ministry, BBC reports.

At first, the family minister of Nicaragua stated that the girl should have the baby because of Nicaragua’s strict abortion policy. Nicaraguan law dictates that abortions are only legal under certain dire situations, including when the mother’s life is in danger. However, the girl’s parents sought special permission to have the pregnancy terminated. The Catholic Church spoke against the abortion, while various children’s and women’s rights groups advocated for the girl to have the right to an abortion. Last month, Costa Rican authorities arrested the man who is accused of the rape.

Media Resources: The Guardian 3/7/03; BBC News 3/5/03; National Post 3/6/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

   

     

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