Abortion in Paraguay

Abortion in Paraguay is illegal except in case of the threat to the life of the woman.[1] Anyone who performs an abortion can be sentenced to 15 to 30 months in prison. If the abortion is done without the consent of the woman, the punishment is increased to 2 to 5 years. If the death of the woman occurred as a result of the abortion, the person who did the procedure can be sentenced to 4 to 6 years in prison, and 5 to 10 years in cases in which she did not consent.[1]

In Paraguay, 23 out of 100 deaths of young women are the result of illegal abortions.[2] Concerning this death rate, Paraguay has one of the highest in the region.[2]

In April 2015, a story about a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who was 22 weeks pregnant as a result of having allegedly been raped and impregnated by her stepfather came to light.[3] The pregnancy had been discovered that same month upon the girl’s mother having brought her to a local hospital in order to receive medical treatment for abdominal pain, which was found to have been related to the pregnancy. Calls from her mother as well as outraged members of the public throughout the world for permission to allow the girl the ability to undergo an abortion procedure were ultimately denied. The girl had given birth to the child via a caesarean section in a Red Cross hospital in Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción later that year.[3] The girl’s stepfather has since been prosecuted for the rape and her mother had also been charged with negligence for her alleged role in the circumstances surrounding the rape and pregnancy of her daughter. The high-profile nature of this case has led opposition leftist parties to push for less restrictive abortion laws in Paraguay, such as in cases of child pregnancies and in cases of sexual assault.[3] Despite these efforts and the international attention, current government officials have neglected to support or act on any proposed changes to Paraguayan abortion law. Following this case, Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes instead attempted to justify denying the 10-year-old legal access to an abortion, arguing that, “We did what our conscience dictated, what the Constitution commands, and what our religious convictions command”.[4] The United Nations has found that the maternal death rate is four times higher for girls under the age of 16 in Latin America.[3] The 10-year-old girl has reportedly survived the birth, and her mother and grandmother have both requested legal custody of the newborn child.[3]

See also


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