Pregnant 10-Year-Olds Are Not a Hoax

I want to tell you about a young girl who became pregnant by rape. No, not the ten-year-old in Ohio. This girl was an eleven-year-old in Argentina.

She was called Lucía in news stories, although that is not her name. Courts had removed Lucía and two older sister from her mother’s home, because her mother’s boyfriend was abusing the older girls. So Lucía was living with her grandmother when her grandmother’s boyfriend raped her. She doesn’t appear to have understood what he was doing to her.

I infer from news stories that no one realized Lucía was pregnant until the early second trimester. She was about 19 weeks along when she went to a public hospital in her province to ask for an abortion. Abortions were illegal in Argentina, but two exceptions were allowed: In cases of rape, and in cases in which the mother’s life is at risk. Lucía qualified on both counts. She was small for her age, and her body hadn’t matured enough to have carried a pregnancy to term without risk.

Lucía knew she didn’t want to be pregnant. She made two suicide attempts. She demanded that doctors remove “what the old man put inside me.”

However, the government of Tucumán province, where Lucía lived, deliberately delayed the abortion to which she was entitled. Instead, the officials issued instructions to doctors to “save both lives.” One official lied to the public about how small she was and claimed that carrying the pregnancy to term posed no risk to her. But a doctor told a family court that Lucia faced “high obstetric risk” should her pregnancy continue.

The archbishop of Tucumán, Carlos Sánchez, recorded an audio address that went viral. He carelessly revealed Lucía’s real name and called on his listeners to become “custodians” of the fetus. Anti-abortion groups got involved and set up a noisy vigil around the hospital where Lucía was gestating under observation, and probably also under suicide watch.

The battle over Lucía’s pregnancy raged in courts and in media, until finally doctors were cleared to terminate the pregnancy. Lucía had reached 23 weeks’ gestation — considered the earliest threshold of viability — and the infant was delivered by caesarian section. In spite of many efforts the infant did not survive.

So Lucía was put through all that anguish and pain, both physical and psychological, for nothing.

But the case, which was not that unusual — “In 2017 (according to the latest available data from the Health Statistics and Information Office), 2,493 babies were born to girls under the age of 15″ in Argentina, it says here — re-ignited the debate over legal abortion in Argentina. The callous disregard for Lucía shocked much of the public. People took to the streets demanding there be no more Lucías in Argentina.

Lucía was delivered of her doomed infant in 2019. In December 2020, Argentina passed a bill that legalized abortion through the 14th week of pregnancy. This might not have helped Lucía, but it was a huge victory for women and girls in Argentina.

And this is why abortion criminalizers in the U.S. don’t want to hear about ten-year-olds who are pregnant by rape. They’d like to pretend it doesn’t happen. But it does happen. In 2020, 1,765 girls aged 15 and less gave birth in the U.S. How many other girls in the same age category received abortions, I do not know. But now that abortion is illegal in huge parts of the U.S., that number of underage mothers will no doubt go up. A lot.

There was a time that abortion was illegal everywhere in Latin America, except Cuba. After Argentina, Mexico decriminalized abortion in 2021. Colombia made elective abortion legal through the 24th week of gestation in February 2022.

The legislation in these countries came about because of many sad stories, such as the story of  Lorena Gelis, a 37-year-old woman in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla, who died from severe bleeding after a botched back-alley abortion. She died just a few weeks before the new law was passed.

And it isn’t just Latin America. Earlier this year I wrote about Savita Halappanavar, whose death in 2012 was one of the catalysts that led to legalizing abortion in Ireland. Irish law was ambiguously worded, and physicians were unsure when they could terminate Halappanavar’s disasterous pregnancy without putting themselves in legal jeopardy. It was clear the pregnancy was going wrong all kinds of ways and that Halappanavar’s life was in jeopardy. The fetus was at only 17 weeks’ gestation and had no chance of survival. Even so, the doctors felt they could not operate until the fetal heartbeat could no longer be detected, even though Halappanavar was in great pain and becoming septic. They waited three days, and the delay cost Savita Halappanavar her life.

Abortion was legalized in Ireland in 2018.

Already the many new state laws banning abortion are leaving physicians confused. Here in Missouri, the law that went into effect within hours of the Dobbs decision prohibits most abortions except in cases of medical emergency. Um, exactly what constitutes a “medical emergency”? Medical professionals have been petitioning the state government to clarify what they mean by “emergency” so as to avoid being dragged off to jail if their medical judgments clash with the courts.

A few days ago, Democratic minority leaders in the state’s Republian majority legislature asked for a special session to provide some guidelines about how a physician is supposed to know what a kosher “medical emergency” is supposed to be. How close does a woman have to be to gasping her last breath before the doctors step in to save her? Must internal bleeding have begun? What about sepsis? If an abortion is performed in an emergency but there was a 10 percent chance mother and fetus might have survived, would the physicians be charged with a crime? It’s this very ambiguity that killed Savita Halappanavar.

Our cognitively challenged governor, of course, shot down the special session proposal. “You’re talking about a complicated issues that’s going to take time to figure out how to do this,” Gov. Mike Parson brilliantly noted. He said that physicians ought to have a “seat at the table,” which seems reasonable, but he is clearly in no hurry to clarify anything to anybody.

I guess we’ll know what’s legal and what isn’t when they start prosecuting doctors.

Parson also said the Missouri health department would provide clarity and review current regulations to ensure they line up with the new law.

Summer Ballentine reported for the Associated Press

The Department of Health and Senior Service’s guidance for the most part directs questioners to read Missouri laws on abortion and otherwise leaves it up to prosecutors to interpret.

“Enforcement of the criminal provisions of state statute are left to local law enforcement agencies, local prosecuting attorneys, and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for enforcement,” the document states.

A frequently asked question listed on the health department document is whether the agency can “provide legal advice so that medical professionals and patients can know what is and is not legal.”

“No,” the factsheet states. “DHSS is not authorized to provide legal advice to third parties.”

Prosecutors had been relying on the health department to issue guidance.

So now it’s up to local prosecutors to decide what a “medical emergency” is. These are not people I’d trust to keep flies off a sandwich, never mind make rational decisions about life or death medical issues.

The post I wrote about Savita Halappanavar is titled Republicans Will Overreach on Abortion. They are overreaching now. It’s obvious some of them aren’t going to stop until no abortion can be performed for any reason. If women die, so be it. And at least some of them realize that stories about ten-year-old rape victims doesn’t help their cause. So they will deny, deny, deny.

The story about the ten-year-old rape victim in Ohio was first published on July 1 in the Indianapolis Star. The only name named in the article was that of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist. Right-wing media promptly cited the lack of corroboration and called the story a hoax. Some Fox News bobbleheads spent considerable on air time claiming they had “researched” it and didn’t believe the ten-year-old girl even existed. And if so, why wasn’t the rape reported to police (it had been, in late June)? And how could Dr. Bernard get away with not filing the proper paperwork about the abortion (she had filed it).

And then, after nearly two weeks of the usual right-wing spin machine noise persuading people that this was fake news, the Columbus Dispatch reported a suspect in the rape had been arrested. And the suspect has confessed. Oops!

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita had been all over Fox News badmouthing Dr. Bernard. Bernard’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the AG yesterday, demanding he stop making “false or misleading statements” about Dr. Bernard.

But the larger issue here is that this sort of thing is going to keep happening. There will be more cases that will become public and shed a bright light on the casual cruelties and injustices caused by abortion bans. This will happen over and over. It will shape public opinion. And the Fetus People don’t want you to hear about them.

Pro-choice demonstrators in Argentina, 2019.

7 thoughts on “Pregnant 10-Year-Olds Are Not a Hoax

  1. Data about the United States:

    In 2011, there were 3,974 births by mothers aged 14 & lower. 

    In 2020, there were 1,765. 

    There was a consistent drop in these numbers that correlates to the years Obama was president.  The numbers seem to have stabilized at the horrific rate just under 1,800 a year.  We should probably expect those numbers to grow dramatically.

    This is in the United States – before Alito's Hobbs ruling.  I found no data identifying abortions for girls younger than 15 nor have I found any data identifying how many female children under 15 have died because of pregnancy related issues.,1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867/2829,6,8,7,251/15589,15590

  2. I *comprehended*, though I seriously disagree with the usual judgemental punishment the fetus people want pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood to be. Unmarried women (Aren't all abortions to unmarried sinful women?) – as they view women who seek an abortion – are harlots.

    Reality punctures the virtuous women v sinful women fantasy. A child, sometimes not even a teen yet, is no harlot. She didn't 'tempt' the poor man into sin.  Which makes the reaction of denial all the more shocking. Where is the compassion for these girls?

    I have a question. Of the thousands of abortions of girls under 14 in the US… (mentioned above) how many resulted in statutory rape convictions?  In how many cases were the cases simply ignored and buried because the family is well-to-do, white, and they wanted to 'protect' the victim from further trauma. (Translation: the perp is a family member of a white upper-class untouchable.)

    My opinion is that EVERY damn case of a child pregnancy should be investigated and prosecuted and it's my guess that investigation and prosecution is VERY selective.  So what if Dems suggested it should NOT be selective?

    A law that makes statutory rape a federal crime that federal cops would have authority to investigate and prosecute independently. 

  3. These evil, stupid, ignorant, bigoted, White dumbasses will do anything to win.

    But they can't do anything.   Nothing

    Without cheating, that is.  They really can't do anything without cheating.  Basically, a lot of them are utterly mentally and physically incompetent – and inept!

    And so they cheat. 

    And so, they win. 

    More than us.

    They win because they will break any and every promise, rule, contract, law, and/or deal.

    Ok, so they win.  BUT WINNING AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH!


    They want us to acknowledge their VAST superiority over us lowly peasants – not just mentally and physically, but spiritually, too!  Tbey think their god favors them.  And that's because they're bold. Oy.

    And MOST importantly, these MFing arseholes want us to thank them for all the the good things in our lives. And with grateful heart's, thank them again  whaf great care they bestow upon us.. And that it costs too much.

    All of this drives me to drink! 

    "But Lard nose I shouldn't – AND WON'T – drive me own self to drink."

    "YOU ARE!!! 

    "I CALL 'SHOTGU'…! 

    Uhm…  Yiu drive, and I shall occupy the seat nearest the front seat’s right-hand door

    Yeah, so we REALLY need some updated – WELL RESEARCHED AND CHECKED – jargon.

    Like, NOW PLEASE!!!
    “Shotgun.”. I’m such an asshole…


    I think you folks will be ab look able to figure out what I mean.

  4. The extreme cases are horrid, but the crippled lives of the unwanted, unplanned, and neglected children of adults by physical age only or near physical age only, is more horrid.  Those who have seen the horrors of the "social safety nets" these children are provided (even in the more social states) know what I mean.  It may take a whole village but look around and all you see in my state are dying small towns.  Many are too small to support public schools, a proper grocery store, or even a drug store for legal drugs.  They survive only on cheap fuel, and that too is a thing of the past. They can't even support themselves much less an unattended child. 

    We know the trendline and have known it for years.  The politicians and preachers hear only what they want to hear and read only highly filtered information.  Their brains would explode without psychotic dose levels of denial.  

    It is very hot and dry here.  New records are set almost daily.  The future keeps getting bleaker.  At what point does even a planned parenthood become folly?


    • I am watching the rural landscape jobs here evaporate and the only folks left are the folks living on gov't transfer payments or retirement payments. And then there are the casinos for the remainers. 

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