An 11-year-old girl in Paraguay has welcomed a healthy baby. The new mom has been at the heart of a fierce abortion debate in the country since her pregnancy was revealed when she was just 10 years old.
Asunción Red Cross Director Mario Villalba confirmed the c-section birth to CNN, saying mother and baby “are in good health condition” despite concerns about the pregnancy based on the mother’s age.
The girl’s pregnancy was publicly revealed in May, after her mother took her for an examination because she was complaining of abdominal pains. She was 10 years old and 22 weeks along at the time. Although Amnesty International said forcing her to continue the pregnancy was “tantamount to torture,” she was denied an abortion by the state, which only permits that if the mother’s health is in risk. According to CNN, health minister Antonio Barrios said in May, “We’re totally against interrupting the pregnancy. The girl is getting assistance permanently in a shelter and the pregnancy is progressing normally without a problem.”
Even though there weren’t serious complications to the mother or baby, Amnesty’s Americas director Erika Guevara said that “does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape victim and a child.” According to a 2013 United Nations report, there are lasting, potentially fatal complications for many of the 2 million females younger than 14 who are estimated to give birth in developing countries each year.
Authorities believe the girl was raped by her stepfather, Gilberto Benitez Zárate, who had previously been reported for sexual abuse. He denies the charges and wants a DNA test. The girl’s mother was arrested when the pregnancy was revealed in May, but has been out on bond since June. She told CNN she reported the abuse in November 2013, even though Paraguayan Health Minister Barrios previously said neighbors were the ones who reported it and the mother initially denied the accusations against her husband.