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11-Year-Old in Paraguay Gives Birth to Girl After Being Denied An Abortion

Paraguay only allows abortion when a mother's life is in danger. The girl had been raped by her stepfather and was denied an abortion despite outcry from Amnesty International and other groups.
August 14, 2015, 12:10am
Imagen por Jorge Saenz/AP

An 11-year-old girl who was denied an abortion after being raped by her stepfather gave birth on Thursday, ending a case that put a spotlight on child rape in Paraguay, and drew criticism from human rights groups.

Elizabeth Torales, lawyer for the girl's mother, told the Associated Press that the minor gave birth to a baby girl via cesarean at a Red Cross hospital in Asuncion, Paraguay's capital. She reported there were no complications in the birth.

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"The baby doesn't yet have a name," said Torales, who added that her client and the girl's grandmother requested custody of the infant.

The hospital's director, Mario Villalba, told reporters that the birth took about 35 minutes, and that the girl would remain in the hospital for three to four days, "like any other patient who has had a cesarean." He declined to give more details.

The girl was raped and impregnated by her stepfather when she was 10. The man has been arrested and is awaiting trial. The girl's mother has been charged with negligence, and is currently on parole.

Related: Despite International Pressure, Paraguay Denies Abortion for 10-Year-Old Girl

The mother requested an abortion for her daughter in June, but the government refused to allow it, drawing praise from religious groups but criticism from many human rights organizations, including officials at the United Nations.

Paraguay only allows abortion when a mother's life is in danger. At the time, the girl was five months pregnant and local health officials said she appeared to be in fine health.

In a statement Thursday, Amnesty International said it was glad the girl came through the birth without complications, but said the fact that "she did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities."

Norma Benitez, spokeswoman for the Latin American Women's Commission, said her group would now push the government to provide a safe environment for the girl that includes both her mother and grandmother.

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"The Paraguayan state must fulfill its role of protecting children by providing a home and a dignified life for this family," she said.

The Roman Catholic Church has wide influence in the country and was at the forefront of calls not to allow an abortion. Mariano Mercado, spokesman for the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference, reaffirmed the church's position Thursday but didn't talk about the girl's case.

"Human life is sacred and should be respected and protected from the moment of conception until death," he told the AP.

In July, Pope Francis spent three days in Paraguay. He met with officials, toured a slum outside Asuncion, and celebrated two Masses. While activists had hoped to bring up the case of the pregnant girl, Francis did not speak about it or focus on abortion in any of his speeches.

Related: 'Not One Woman Less': Massive Demonstration Highlights Killings of Women in Argentina

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In photo above, a 13-year-old girl holds her one-month old baby at a shelter for troubled children in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, on Thursday, May 14, 2015.