But can you praise a "choice" if there is no choice?
July 12, 2013 1:01 PM   Subscribe

(Links in English except where marked with '*' (Spanish)) Amnesty International urges Chile to allow an 11-year old to abort a pregnancy due to rape after President Sebastián Piñera, who has a strong anti-abortion position, congratulates the girl's "mature and profound" decision to continue with her pregnancy (CNN.cl video)*. The Association* of Chilean Physicians also speaks in support of making an exception as well as liberalizing existing laws. This case highlights the discrepancies between the political elite's conservative ideals and reality in a country of extreme and highly institutionalized inequality.

The child has said* in an interview that she was looking forward to "holding the baby in her arms, like a doll." Amnesty urges "the Chilean government to comply with their international obligations to ensure Belén has access to all the medical, psychological and legal support she needs and has a right to, including the special needs she has as a child including the option of safe, accessible and legal abortion services.”

Chilean media have reported on the negative attention* the President has received in international media.

The case became known in June this year and reignited a debate that takes place every few years.

Therapeutic abortion in Chile (UN.org .doc-file) was legal until 1989, the year in which a new law under Pinochet forbade it in every circumstance with the argument that, "given the advances in modern medicine, an abortion was no longer needed to save the life of a pregnant woman" (UN.org).

According to a poll conducted in 2009 at the Universidad Diego Portales*, only 20% of Chileans support the current law and believe abortion should be banned in all circumstances, while 15% believe it should be completely free of any restrictions. Crucially, 66,5% percent believe in therapeutic abortion, and 66,9% in the right to end a pregnancy due to rape.

Moreover, it is well known among the population that, while being illegal, high end private clinics do silently provide abortions to women who can afford them, while the middle class and the poor are left with illegal and dangerous options, or none at all.

While the Republic of Chile is known among experts as economic liberalism's playground, it has also one of the most socially conservative laws in the Western world. Divorce has only been legal since 2004 and until that year it was legal for schools to expel girls in school age just for being pregnant*. "Illegitimate" children have only had the legal right to be supported by both parents since 1998*.
posted by ipsative (25 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
So awful.

Is there anyplace to donate for this girl's ongoing treatment and help? I imagine I've got a little money that could be put to much better use on her behalf than anything I plan to do with it.

If someone could slap some sense and/or empathy into her country's president along the way, that'd be awesome, too.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:23 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, I had no idea how backwards Chile was on social issues. Was it always like this? or has Chile witness a lot of retrograde legislation since Pinochet and after?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"holding the baby in her arms, like a doll."

I don't. I.

This is a competence issue. She doesn't have it. She doesn't understand. She can't.

I can't imagine this.
posted by mephron at 1:49 PM on July 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Pablo Lorrain has also voiced some hateful views towards the LGBT community.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Ugh. UGH.
posted by peripathetic at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pablo Lorrain has also voiced some hateful views towards the LGBT community.

The linked article actually refers to Carlos Larrain, the politician, not Pablo Larrain, the film director. I think they're both part of the same influential family, but there's no reason to think that Pablo shares his relative's hateful views.
posted by Awkward Philip at 2:20 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


She has absolutely no concept of what she is consenting to.
Not to mention from what I've read the abuse went on for quite some time so I'm sure she's in need of all sorts of help. I mean her own fucking mother says the abuse was CONSENSUAL. Wtf?????

This story makes my heart and head hurt in so many ways.
posted by sio42 at 2:21 PM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


It is horribly common for the MOTHERS of children abused by husbands and boyfriends to be in denial about what is going on. This girl's mother is complicit as far as I am concerned.
Stating that this was consensual when her child things of the baby like a doll!
As for the boyfriend, he needs to be given pain-enhancing chemicals and run over by a tank.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:35 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a competence issue. She doesn't have it. She doesn't understand. She can't.

Not to mention that 11-year-old bodies are in no way prepared to give birth.

This whole thing is just horrible.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


The linked article actually refers to Carlos Larrain, the politician
My mistake. Mods, please feel free to correct.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:47 PM on July 12, 2013


MisantropicPainforest: Holy shit, I had no idea how backwards Chile was on social issues. Was it always like this? or has Chile witness a lot of retrograde legislation since Pinochet and after?

Probably as conservative as others 100 years ago, but customs haven't changed as rapidly as, say, Argentina or Uruguay. Actually, most of those laws (or lack thereof) I mentioned above predated Pinochet, as far as I know (not a lawyer or historian), only the prohibition of all forms of abortion was (re)introduced during his regime. One of his "head legislators", Jaime Guzmán, was an extremely conservative catholic and remained a senator until he was murdered by terrorists in 1991. In the discussions on the new constitution (which he wrote), he said that any tragic circumstances surrounding a woman's pregnancy which might lead her to consider abortion (and thus be a criminal) also put her in a position to be heroic. Unfortunately, I could not find the interview where he said this was often a woman's only chance for moral heroism, and it would be a sin to deprive her of it. I read it 10 years ago and I still haven't recovered.

Carlos Larraín, also a longtime Senator, has very similar views to these. And as to homophobic remarks, he compared homosexuals to pedophiles and zoophiles. I was going to write don't get me started on Larraín, but there you go. I'll stop now.

But that's the kind of people who were still making and protecting laws in the 1990s and it took over a decade to have real changes. Left-wing legislators have generally known when to seize the moment and introduce progressive changes, but they have spent the last 20 years in a coalition with Christian Democrats, who tend to side with the right-wing parties on social issues.

Abortion has been brewing for years and I don't think it's ever been a realistic pitch in congress. Just last year it was voted against. But after this, things are looking good. Some of the right people are certainly starting to speak up. Former President Bachelet has already said she wants to intruduce therapeutic abortion, and she is likely to win this year's elections.
posted by ipsative at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2013


sio42:

I know, the mother's reaction is so brutal! This girl will grow up to realize how these adults who are deciding for her - from her caretakers to the f"%§$ President of the country - were absolute idiots who had no idea what they were talking about. I just want to pluck her out of there. I haven't found any organizations working with her directly, but I can't imagine her mother and guardian will let her engage with them anyway.
posted by ipsative at 3:36 PM on July 12, 2013


For those wanting a bit of context, Sebastián Piñera is the first president from a right-of-center political party to win office since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. This is just one of the many dark sides to the libertarian free-market experiment that the University of Chicago boys had envisioned with Pinochet.
posted by jonp72 at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the mother is probably approximately as competent as her 11-year-old, who will likely in turn parent the way that her mother did.

1) I absolutely, completely, 100% believe that abortion should be available to this kid.

2) I am not sure, whether abortion were available, if the kid would be able to legitimately consent any more than she was able to consent to impregnation in the first place, and whether forcing it on her wouldn't be as invasive, emotionally, as forcing childbirth on her.

3) how likely is she to survive the pregnancy and birth?

4) what kind of social consequences is she going to face?

5) Why is abortion I'm cases of rape treated as a special case by so many people? I genuinely don't understand this. It's not the fetus's fault that it is the product of rape. (Again, I am 100% pro-choice, I just don't understand why this is often treated differently, even by pro-lifers).

Maybe, in cases of rape, if the woman has to bear the child, the man should have to adequately care for and rear it, or something. Except who wants a rapist raising a child? Augh. So. Complicated.


Poor little girl.
posted by windykites at 5:15 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Katjusa Roquette : It is horribly common for the MOTHERS of children abused by husbands and boyfriends to be in denial about what is going on. This girl's mother is complicit as far as I am concerned.

The girl's maternal grandmother was the one who eventually told police, too, not the mother. I cannot see how the grandmother knew about the pregnancy without the mother knowing; the mother may have shared the girl's pregnancy with the grandmother herself.

Then, after the stepfather confessed to raping this girl for two years, the mother told the press,"She was not violated, and he would not have used force," and insisted the "relationship" was "consensual". Jesus.

She was in the third grade when this man started abusing her. The third grade. He was her mother's husband. He was a father figure to this girl, someone she should have been able to trust and so she did. A determined child molester will do what it takes, including (sorry to be so graphic) bringing their victim to orgasm, to get that victim to comply. He may have bribed, threatened, cajoled, pleaded, struck her or beat her to a pulp before he violated her, we don't know.

But I'll tell you what, after he had raped her that very first time, he would seek to convince her that she was at fault as well.

She "allowed" it to happen. It happened because he loved her so much! Their love was special, and secret. No one must know, because they wouldn't understand. They wouldn't believe her anyway.

And, besides, if she told, why, someone would be hurt--not just him, but her, and her mother too! The would come and take him away from them, and they'd never see each other again. They would separate the whole family, take her away from her mother. Her mother would be so hurt, and lonely, all because she couldn't keep their love secret. It would be all her fault.

That's the kind of sickening, twisted logic he would use. That's what predators do. If this girl seemed in any way "complicit" or okay with what was being done to her by her rapist stepfather, doh, Obviously that was also a result of the abuse. All the more reason to pity her, and try to get her help.

That her mother didn't immediately throw the guy out and rush to her own daughter's defense even after he had confessed goes way beyond denial. She put her daughter at risk by not telling police herself, and she is still putting her child's health, safety and mental well-being in jeopardy by even suggesting that this 11 year-old is at all responsible for the abuse she suffered. That's just inexcusable.

That woman chose this man over her daughter. Fine, let her have him. She should be in jail along with the rapist, facing charges of parental negligence and child abuse herself, as far as I am concerned.
posted by misha at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Anti-abortion or not, hard to believe people think the president publicly stating what a raped, pregnant 11 year old girl should do is appropriate.
posted by spaltavian at 7:39 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is abortion I'm cases of rape treated as a special case by so many people? I genuinely don't understand this.

Imagine a woman who's pregnant. Now imagine a woman who's pregnant because she was raped. If you can see that it's likely to make a difference to the woman, you understand why pregnancy in cases of rape is a special case. And since the pregnancy is a special case, it's logical that the abortion is a special case as well.

That said, I suppose there are some people who believe a woman who is raped should be allowed an abortion because the pregnancy is "not her fault." I think that's absurd. But if it helps promote the availability of abortion, that's a good thing.

It's not the fetus's fault that it is the product of rape. (Again, I am 100% pro-choice, I just don't understand why this is often treated differently, even by pro-lifers).

I don't think many women who decide to have an abortion, regardless of the circumstances, are doing it as a way to punish the fetus.
posted by layceepee at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is abortion I'm cases of rape treated as a special case by so many people? I genuinely don't understand this.

Because the pro-life movement is about women taking "responsibility" and traditional attitudes regarding sex at least as much as it is about the claimed rights of a zygote or fetus.
posted by spaltavian at 8:45 PM on July 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


For those wanting a bit of context, Sebastián Piñera is the first president from a right-of-center political party to win office since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. This is just one of the many dark sides to the libertarian free-market experiment that the University of Chicago boys had envisioned with Pinochet.

And many still hold him up as a model to be emulated.
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a case in Brazil in 2009, there was outrage when the Catholic Church spoke against and excommunicated a child's family for obtaining a perfectly legal abortion for the nine-year-old who was pregnant with twins after her stepfather raped her.

But, having kept one eye on Rick Perry and the Texas legislature recently, I must say Chile's president does not sound much more backward than some politicians in the United States.
posted by Anitanola at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Sorry, but the gender identity "thought experiment" is a profound derail here.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:53 AM on July 13, 2013


Well, there goes my happy from reading the Malala thread.
posted by Mezentian at 4:02 AM on July 13, 2013


windykites: 2) I am not sure, whether abortion were available, if the kid would be able to legitimately consent any more than she was able to consent to impregnation in the first place, and whether forcing it on her wouldn't be as invasive, emotionally, as forcing childbirth on her.

I'm with Amnesty when they say there needs to be a thorough assessment of what is best for the girl in this situation in terms of emotional and physical support, therapy, etc. She needs trustworthy professionals with no political or personal stake in this to come up with the best course of action. At this point, after going public with interviews on TV and hearing/experiencing who knows what kinds of things at home, she must be very confused. Only taking this into consideration can someone decide with her, but for her, what is the medically safest and least traumatic course of action.
posted by ipsative at 4:20 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


spaltavian:Anti-abortion or not, hard to believe people think the president publicly stating what a raped, pregnant 11 year old girl should do is appropriate.

Actually, I can't wait until "mansplaining" catches on in Chile. It always takes a while for concepts like these to reach the end of the world...

Piñera's inappropriateness is not new, though. And if you can read Spanish, try and google "piñericosas". He's like Dubya.
posted by ipsative at 4:37 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]




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