Brazil: Raped girl, 11, gets abortion after initial refusal

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian prosecutors said Thursday that a raped 11-year-old girl had received a legal abortion after a judge blocked her for weeks from ending her pregnancy.

Federal prosecutors in the state of Santa Catarina said in a statement that Polydoro Ernani de São Thiago hospital had taken “measures to interrupt the minor’s pregnancy” after a formal request made on behalf of the girl’s family.

The hospital said in a statement that it could not comment on the case because it is under the secrecy of Brazil’s judiciary system.

Doctors had earlier refused to perform the procedure because the child was in her 22nd week of pregnancy.

Some anti-abortion activists argue Health Ministry recommendations urge a 20- to 22-week limit on the procedure. But Daniela Félix, a lawyer for the family of the child, and other legal experts said Brazilian law makes no mention of a limit in the case of rape victims or when a woman’s life is in danger.

The 11-year-old, who was 10 when she was raped, was in her 29th week when the abortion was finally carried Wednesday night, amid outrage against judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer for her actions in the case.

Earlier this week, Brazil’s judicial watchdog agency said it would investigate Zimmer for asking the child at a filmed hearing May 9 whether she understood how pregnancies happen and suggesting the girl should “hold on a little more” to save the fetus.

The girl repeatedly said she did not want to give birth.

Brazilian law allows abortions in three instances: rape; risk to the mother’s life; and cases of anencephaly, in which a fetus has no functioning brain.

The case has sparked a debate between supporters of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and those of leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro, who is in a bid for reelection against da Silva, tweeted after news of the girl’s abortion emerged: “A baby of a seven month pregnancy.”

“We don’t discuss the way it was conceived, whether the law allows it or not. It is inadmissible taking the life of this defenseless being!” he wrote.

Da Silva said in April that anyone should be allowed to have an abortion, but within days he pulled back, saying that he opposes abortions although he believes that women should be allowed the choice as a matter of public health.

The case, reported by the website The Intercept Brasil last week, prompted associations of magistrates and human rights groups to ask that Zimmer be removed from her post.

Zimmer said in a statement Wednesday that she “will not speak about parts of the hearing, which were illegally leaked.” She also said she will remain silent about the case “to assure the due and full protection to the child.”

The probe on Zimmer’s methods will be conducted by the same Santa Catarina court system in southern Brazil and its decision with be referred to her own court in the southern Brazil state, and then taken for the national watchdog to make its final decision. ___

Savarese reported from Sao Paulo.