Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Use Of A Ten-Year-Old Girl's Life By Church, State and Unrelated Ideologues In Other Places

It should be a given that no ten-year-old girl should be pregnant and that carrying a pregnancy to full term for any girl of that age is a life endangering situation and so any girl in that situation should have access to an abortion performed by a doctor under hygienic conditions.  I have no doubts that the law should allow that and that medical care is a human right that such a girl should have access to. No law, anywhere should mandate that any ten-year-old girl remain pregnant.  Any man who impregnates a girl too young to give adult consent to sex is guilty of rape and authorities who don't intervene when they're informed of a man raping a child are as guilty as the rapist.  That also needs to be said in regard to this case.  Every adult person has an absolute right to determine what happens in their own body that no other person or group of people has a right to intervene in.  And that in cases of children or those unable to make a rational, adult decision on their own behalf will have to have those decisions made by responsible adults who have their welfare as their first consideration.   That is where I start on this.

The news story about the ten-year-old girl who is being denied an abortion in Paraguay is certainly full of awful features, a lot of those in the laws governing abortion in Paraguay, and is certainly ripe for ideological use.  That is what it is here, something used in an ideological campaign when it should be about the life and health of the girl, not about the use to which she can be made in the United States and other countries where such a child could have a legal abortion under safe conditions.  Its use here centers on slamming the Catholic church, who have gotten far worse treatment than the civil authorities in Paraguay have, those with the legal ability to allow an abortion in this case.  Which tells us a lot more about us here than it does about Paraguay or this situation.  That it is a matter of the girl's life would seem to matter less than why her life is in danger to most of the people talking about it than that the denial of an abortion.  You have to wonder how many ten-year-old girls' lives are in danger in the United States, today, due to denial of entirely legal medical treatment for conditions other than being pregnant when it is a question of ability to pay, all with no similar outcry.  Not to mention such girls in Paraguay.   The interest in a lot of people is in being able to use this to slam religion, specifically the Catholic church, the actual welfare of the girl is secondary.

Again, it should be a given that no ten-year-old girl should be pregnant and that carrying a pregnancy to full term for any girl that you is a life endangering situation and so any girl in that situation should have access to an abortion performed by a doctor under hygienic conditions.   The situation in Paraguay is appalling, that a girl who is pregnant should have access to a safe abortion is obvious and its banning in a case like this is a violation of rights.  There can be no reasonable case made that the law should prevent it.

In the case in the news from Paraguay the use of it in the United States and Britain (which I mention only because I'm relying on an article from The Guardian), apparently, is to present another reason to vent against the Catholic Church, the church of well over 85% of the population of Paraguay.  Even in the most restrictive interpretation of Catholic teaching on abortion, one is allowed if the life of the woman is in danger.  From the little I've been able to find on the law in Paraguay, it would seem to me that an abortion is also allowed under those circumstances.  In this case that decision is being made by doctors and, ultimately, civil authorities.

“Right now, there is no reason to interrupt the pregnancy,” Lida Sosa, director of healthcare programs at the ministry of public health and wellness, said. “In fact, given the stage of the pregnancy, it’s even more dangerous for the girl to undergo a procedure [to abort] without a well-considered medical, obstetrical evaluation.”

Since this issue is being used here mostly to slam the Catholic church, I'll point out that it was the civil authorities who didn't intervene to prevent the rape of the girl by her step-father who was certainly doing things that the Catholic church teaches are seriously wrong.  I have looked and can't find any report that the mother, the step-father or the girl were Catholics or even religious.  I have looked at the constitution of Paraguay**, there is legal separation of church and state and no religion is given legal power, though, as always, there is no way to prevent religion having political influence through the beliefs of the people.

I can't imagine any circumstance under which a pregnancy in a ten year old girl isn't a life threatening situation but, then, like most of the rest of the people who are commenting on this, I'm not a doctor, I've never so much as seen the girl and I haven't heard what she thinks about the situation*.  In this case the girl's mother was the one who is presented as asking for an abortion and I think that given the girl's age that she is probably the one who should make the ultimate decision on her daughter's behalf.  The situation is complicated because she is being targeted by the authorities for not having prevented the rape of her daughter by the girl's step-father, an outrage in itself as the woman tried to report the man to police last year and they did nothing.  He's reported to be "on the run".  I have no way of knowing what level of responsibility for the situation falls on the girl's mother, if she was entirely blameless or did act irresponsibly.  I doubt any of those commenting on this situation know more about that than I do.  However, focusing on her as opposed to finding the clearly guilty step-father is appalling optics, and that's the least bad thing you can say about it.

What do the people here imagine they're going to accomplish by using this story to slam a religion which is not going to change its policy that a fetus, an embryo is a human being and that having an abortion is killing a human being.  They aren't going to convert the Catholic population of Paraguay to some other belief, in a lot of places in Latin America, when Catholics have left the Catholic church it is to some kind of fundamentalist protestant church which is far less friendly to women and their rights.  Though that varies from place to place.  You should be careful for what you wish for because what you get as a result might not be what you want.

While I am certain some of the people writing about this and similar awful situations are sincerely interested in the lives and welfare of the girls and women involved, , especially many feminists, I am just as certain that most of those I'm reading about it couldn't care less about them.  For such people it's not about the rights of girls and women, it's about the use to which they can be put for their own, unrelated agendas.  As I said, this situation is full of awful features.  I'd just like the awful features concentrated on all have the rights and conditions of the girls and women as their real focus.

*  What would be the right thing to do if the girl wanted to continue with the pregnancy?   My inclination would be that, at that age, she should certainly not be the one making such a vitally important medical decision, though the idea of forcing an abortion on such a girl is certainly not untroubling.  What if the mother didn't want her to have an abortion?   Who should make the decision then?   I ask that because of an argument I got into over the sterilization of a young woman who was profoundly intellectually disabled and barely able to function at the level of a four year old but who was, none the less, attractive to men who would take advantage of her.  These aren't easy issues in many cases but there is no way to think you can come to any kind of easy, clear comprehensive conclusions about them.


Quedan reconocidas la libertad religiosa, la de culto y la ideológica, sin más limitaciones que las establecidas en esta Constitución y en la ley. Ninguna confesión tendrá carácter oficial.

Las relaciones del Estado con la iglesia católica se basan en la independencia, cooperación y autonomía.  

Se garantizan la independencia y la autonomía de las iglesias y confesiones religiosas, sin más limitaciones que las impuestas en esta Constitución y las leyes.

Nadie puede ser molestado, indagado u obligado a declarar por causa de sus creencias o de su ideología.

That means that, far from the ultimate authority for making the legal decision preventing the girl from obtaining an abortion resting with the Catholic church, as is being said all over the English language blogosphere, legally, the authority is in the hands of secular authorities.

1 comment:

  1. When you don't really know what's going on, round up the usual suspects.