A 10-year-old Mayan girl has become the center of a controversy regarding abortion under exigent circumstances in Mexico, where the procedure is more restricted than in the United States. The District Attorney’s Office of the state of Quintana Roo has said it believes that the girl (whose name has not been disclosed for to protect her privacy) was raped and impregnated by her stepfather.
After a local doctor confirmed that she was four months pregnant, the girl’s mother filed a police report on March 23. Four days later, the stepfather, Isaac Santiago Martínez, was arrested. Initially, the girl told authorities that she had been raped while going to school, but upon greater scrutiny she admitted that Martínez was the true culprit. He is currently in jail and officials from the District Attorney’s Office are planning DNA tests to prove his paternity. Though state law allows the termination of a pregnancy in cases of rape, this is limited to the first three months of gestation. The girl has exceeded this time frame.
This case is particularly significant because of its similarity to another controversial rape-abortion case ten years ago. In 1999, 13 year old Paulina Ramírez Jacinto was raped by a drug addict during a home invasion. Upon realizing she was pregnant a few weeks later, the family initiated the required legal proceedings to authorize an abortion in case of rape. Though they obtained a court order allowing this, the health workers at the hospital they went to refused to perform the procedure. Eventually, she was persuaded not to go through with procedure and gave birth to a boy in April of 2000.
The controversy continued, as the case went to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, CIDH). It determined that as denying her the ability to go through the procedure was in direct violation of existing laws, it amounted to an infringement of her human rights. The CNDH reprimanded the Mexican government for not upholding the law and ordered it provide Ramírez Jacinto with child support payments until her son reaches 18 years of age. This was in 2005.