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Paraguayan Government Will Not Grant Abortion To 10-Year-Old Rape Victim

The Foreign Ministry of Paraguay stated that it will not comply with the medical precautionary measures urged by human rights organizations.

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The Ministry of Foreign Relations in Paraguay announced on Friday that it would not comply with the formal order to allow a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim to receive an abortion.

Jorge Saenz / AP

A 13-year-old girl holds her one-month old baby at a shelter for troubled children in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, on May 14, 2015.

The statement argues that it rejected the precautionary measures "on the grounds that [the government] deemed to have taken all measures to avoid impunity for the wrongful act and ensure the life and safety of the pregnant girl and unborn child."

Article 4 of the Constitution of Paraguay, which was established in 1992, guarantees the protection of life from the moment of conception.

The IACHR on June 9 urged the Paraguayan government to allow the young girl to receive an abortion for her pregnancy, according to a statement released by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Peter Prengaman / AP

A young girl holds a sign reading in Spanish, "You'll forget it tomorrow; me, I will remember it for the rest of my life," at a demonstration in front of the attorney general's office in Paraguay on May 11, 2015.

"Denying a young girl essential medical care is nothing short of cruel and inhumane treatment, and a gross violation of her fundamental human rights," said Lilian SepĂșlveda, vice president of the Global Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"The government of Paraguay has disregarded the outcry of voices around the world calling for potentially life-saving care for this young rape survivor. It must not ignore the orders of the Inter-American Commission," she added.

On April 23, a mother in Paraguay brought her 10-year-old daughter to a local hospital. The girl was suffering from stomach pains, and her mother feared she had a tumor.

After a medical examination, doctors determined that the girl was 21 weeks pregnant, according to the IACHR.

The Washington Post reported that child's mother believed her husband, Gilberto Benitez (the girl's stepfather), raped her, and gave his name to authorities.

She also sought an abortion for her daughter.

Benitez fled but was captured by police two weeks later; he denied the rape allegations.

On May 12, a team of physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists conducted a thorough medical examination of the girl and concluded that "she ran the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, a high risk of endometrial infection and a slew of other systematic risks to her not fully developed reproductive health system" if she continued with her pregnancy.

She reportedly weighed 75 pounds at the time of the examinations.

But Paraguayan law restricts abortions to women whose lives would be put at risk if they give birth. Despite doctors' warnings of health risks, the national Ministry of Health determined that the girl's life was not in danger, and denied her access to receiving medical care.

The IACHR is a leading human rights organization in North and South America, and issued the Paraguayan government a resolution on June 8 at the urging of several NGOs. Amnesty International also advocated for the girl in April.

The resolution argues that "the young girl's rights to life and personal integrity, as well as mental and physical health, have been put at grave risk by the Paraguay government denying her a safe and legal abortion."

Acknowledging the level of media attention this case has garnered, the government's statement concluded by urging local media to take precautions in exposing the girl and her family, and to respect her right to privacy.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations in Paraguay announced on Friday that it would not comply with the formal order to allow a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim to receive an abortion.

The statement argues that it rejected the precautionary measures "on the grounds that [the government] deemed to have taken all measures to avoid impunity for the wrongful act and ensure the life and safety of the pregnant girl and unborn child."

Article 4 of the Constitution of Paraguay, which was established in 1992, guarantees the protection of life from the moment of conception.

Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.

Contact Tamerra Griffin at tamerra.griffin@buzzfeed.com.

Mariana Marcaletti is the International News Coordinator for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mariana Marcaletti at mariana.marcaletti@buzzfeed.com.

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