This story garnered much less reaction in blogtopia than I would have expected it to:
The case of the pregnant 9-year-old was shocking enough. But it was the response of the Catholic Church that infuriated many Brazilians. Archibishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife announced that the Vatican was excommunicating the family of a local girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather, because they had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. “God’s laws,” said the archbishop, dictate that abortion is a sin and that transgressors are no longer welcome in the Roman Catholic Church. “They took the life of an innocent,” Sobrinho told TIME in a telephone interview. “Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent. Taking that life cannot be ignored.”
The case has caused a furor. Abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger, both of which apply in this case. (The girl’s immature hips would have made labor dangerous; the Catholic opinion was that she could have had a cesarean section.) When the incident came to light in local newspapers, the Church first asked a judge to halt the process and then condemned those involved, including the 9-year-old’s distraught mother. Even Catholic Brazilians were shocked at the harshness of the archbishop’s actions. “In this case, most people support the doctors and the family. Everything they did was legal and correct,” says Beatriz Galli, the policy associate for Ipsas Brasil, an NGO that fights to give women more say over their health and reproductive rights. …
Poligazette’s Michael Merritt has a good post on this outrage (emphasis is Michael’s):
I’m so glad the Catholic Church has got its priorities straight here.
A nine year old girl from Brazil was raped by her father and became pregnant as a result. The mother opted for an abortion at 15 weeks as her doctors believed her life to be in danger. Then the church steps in and excommunicates the mother and the doctors.
While I understand the Church’s position on abortion, I just can’t agree with them here. Instead of excommunicating them, perhaps the church should have praised the mother for saving the life of her nine year old daughter.
Sadly, not all mothers would have opted to save their daughter’s life in a situation like this one:
Or maybe killing unborn babies isn’t the way to solve the problem of a heinous incestuous father, upon whom the blame for this situation should be centered.
And yes, CStanley is both a woman and a mother.
Steve Benen has the best commentary among the little I’ve seen:
In Brazil, abortion is only legal in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is threatened. In the case of this 9-year-old girl, both standards were met — doctors concluded that the girl’s immature hips made childbirth exceedingly dangerous, prompting church officials to argue that she be forced to carry the baby to term and then have a cesarean.
And yet, the church wouldn’t stop, and embraced as harsh a line as possible. Church leaders condemned a judge for following the law. They lashed out at the doctors treating the victim. Church leaders even excommunicated the girl’s distraught mother.
Outside of the immediate horror of this tragedy, that last point is what the church seems oblivious to. Brazilians are shocked by the church’s conduct in this terrible ordeal, but Catholic leaders couldn’t care less. Archbishop Cardoso Sobrinho told Time, “We know that people have other ideas, but if they do, then they are not Catholics. We want people who adhere to God’s laws.”
A lot of phrases come to mind when describing all of this, but “pro-life” isn’t one of them.
Being excommunicated from a church that would throw away the life of a nine-year-old to to save the life of a fetus is a blessing, in my view. I hope that this little girl and her mother will be able to see it that way in time, if they don’t see it that way now.