A pro-choice rally in Argentina
Image: AP Images

An 11-year-old Argentinian girl, known only as “Lucía” to protect her identity, was forced to give birth after repeatedly asking for an abortion.

The Guardian reports that Lucía became pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner. After discovering she was pregnant, Lucía attempted suicide twice and was ultimately put in a state hospital in the city of Tucumán. There, she told a psychologist, “I want you to remove what the old man put inside me.”

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Even though Lucía faced “high obstetric risk” and would be allowed to have an abortion under an Argentinian law that allows for them in cases of rape or when a woman’s life is in danger, Tucumán’s health secretary claimed that the girl wanted to continue her pregnancy. 23 weeks into her pregnancy Lucía underwent a cesarean section and the baby is reportedly not likely to survive.

Lucía’s case is emblematic of how far the Argentinian government will go to keep women from obtaining abortions, even if it puts their lives at stake despite the cries of anti-abortion advocates who want to “save both lives” of the mother and child. Abortion is still illegal in Argentina after a bill to legalize the procedure was rejected in the Senate last year, but a rising feminist movement in Argentina has mobilized in recent years around legalization.

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Legislation keeping it illegal of course does not permit abortions from happening in the country, it only makes the procedure more fatal for women who seek it out. Human Rights Watch estimates that 500,000 abortions occur every year in Argentina, and complications from those abortions account for 18 percent of all maternal deaths the New York Times reports.