SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A pregnant 11-year-old Chilean girl who was allegedly raped by her stepfather should be granted all medical options, including the right to abort, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday.
The pregnancy of ‘Belen,’ as she is known, has sparked an outcry in the Andean country, where abortion is banned under all circumstances.
“The Chilean state is responsible to provide her with every support necessary as she contends with the horrendous physical and psychological consequences of being raped and pregnant as a result,” Guadalupe Marengo of the London-based human rights group said in a statement.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, a conservative, has asked the health minister to “personally tend” to Belen’s health. Pinera was lambasted for comments lauding the girl’s “depth and maturity” for wanting to go through with the pregnancy.
Belen’s 32-year-old stepfather is accused of raping her over the course of two years in the southern city of Puerto Montt.
ABORTION IN LATIN AMERICA
Despite it’s enviable economic growth, Chile remains one of Latin America’s most socially conservative countries. Divorce was legalized in 2004.
But, as in much of Latin America, a predominantly Roman Catholic region, attitudes are shifting.
Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who is poised to win this year’s presidential election, has said she is in favor of legalizing abortion in cases of rape or risks to the mother’s health.
The Latin American nations that permit abortions are Uruguay, Cuba and former British colony Guyana. Mexico City’s leftist local government decided to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion in Chile used to be allowed when pregnancies posed health risks, but was fully outlawed by the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, according to Human Rights Watch.