Amnesty urges Chile rape victim abortion rethink

Sebastian Pinera at the National Press Club in Washington, 4 June Sebastian Pinera supports Chile's outright ban on abortion

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Amnesty International has urged Chile to allow a pregnant 11-year-old rape victim to undergo an abortion, which is illegal in all circumstances in Chile.

The girl's situation has polarised Chile since she appeared on TV and said she would be happy to have the child.

President Sebastian Pinera, who opposes relaxing the ban on abortion, praised the girl's "depth and maturity".

His critics want the law overhauled to allow abortion in cases of rape and when the mother is at risk.

Amnesty said in a statement that the Chilean state must provide the girl with all medical options, including abortion.

"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," said the group's Guadalupe Marengo.

Latin America's abortion laws

  • Outright ban in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chile, Honduras, Haiti, Suriname
  • Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay have most liberal laws
  • Brazil's senate is currently debating legalisation of terminations during the first 12 weeks
  • More than four million abortions carried out each year
  • Between 1995 and 2008 some 95% were considered to be unsafe

Sources: World Health Organization, Guttmacher Institute

The 11-year-old girl was raped repeatedly over a two-year period by her mother's boyfriend, who has since been arrested.

Mr Pinera said he had asked the health minister to personally look after the girl's health.

"She surprised us all with words showing depth and maturity when she said that, despite the pain caused by the man who raped her, she wanted to have and take care of her baby," he said earlier this week.

Chile is one of seven Latin American countries where abortion is completely banned.

Last month, the case of a seriously ill woman in El Salvador made international headlines when the courts upheld the ban on abortion even though the woman's life was at risk and the foetus was unlikely to survive.

She was eventually allowed to have a caesarean section.

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