A 14-year-old rape survivor in Bolivia decided to undergo an abortion — but miraculously, her baby survived. The girl had been working at a restaurant part-time, and the owner was allegedly the perpetrator of the violence against her. At first, the girl did not even realize what was happening to her, El Deber reported. “She (the victim) did not even understand that she was pregnant,” Federico Urquizo, medical director for the maternity ward at the Percy Boland Women’s Hospital, said to El Deber.
While abortion is illegal in Bolivia in most circumstances, when the mother has been raped, it is allowed. What made this case especially unusual was that the mother was 26 weeks pregnant, and multiple doctors refused to participate. “First time in my life that I see this happening,” Urquizo said. “The gynecologists came one turn individually with their letters to refuse. There was a shift change and again more letters arrived. We had to continue reading the laws, we were told that ‘there can be no objection of conscience of the director of the health establishment’.” Meanwhile, the girl tried to commit suicide.
Eventually, the abortion was committed, with the girl given abortion pills both orally and vaginally. Why a medication abortion was chosen is not clear, but the later in pregnancy the pills are given, the more likely the abortion is to fail. And that’s exactly what happened.
As doctors knew it was a possibility that the baby could survive, they were prepared. The little girl was born weighing less than 2.5 lbs, and was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. Originally, the family wanted nothing to do with the baby. “My sister does not want to know about the baby. She does not want it, she can not take care of it. We as a family do not either,” Urquizo said they originally stated. “‘Mom, I do not want it. How will I take care of it?’ were the first words of the victim, according to her sister, when she confirmed that she was pregnant.” However, it only took a little time for them to change their minds.
The mother is preparing to return to school, but her grandmother and older sister plan to care for the baby girl. “I just met her, she’s a little girl. When [s]he recovers, I want to keep it,” her older sister said in another El Deber article. “I have no daughter, only two sons. I’m going to take care of the baby, but I do not want my sister (the victim) to see her for now. [S]he’s going to be traumatized.”
The baby has since been baptized and named Victoria. “The anger is going to happen to me,” Victoria’s grandmother admitted, but added that it won’t change how she feels about the baby. “We can not abandon, it is our blood; I will love it as my granddaughter. The baby is not to blame.” Meanwhile, Victoria’s mother is being given the psychological treatment she needs for the trauma she’s endured and the depression she still suffers.
It’s far from unusual for babies to survive abortions, and babies far younger than 26 weeks are able to survive outside of the womb. Victoria, and others like her, prove the humanity of preborn children. They are human beings, and both mother and baby deserve to be protected and shown love. The answer to healing from trauma and violence is not to inflict more trauma and violence. In this situation, both mother and baby will be loved and taken care of, with no one being forced to lose his or her life.
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