A 13-year-old girl who was raped by a family acquaintance has been denied access to an abortion in Mexico after a judge downgraded the criminal charges against her perpetrator and removed her right to access services in the process.
In Sonora, the northern Mexico state in which the girl lives, abortion is illegal except in instances of rape. But upon sentencing, the judge made the decision to downgrade the perpetrator’s sentence from rape to sexual coercion, meaning the young girl could no longer legally access an abortion.
Activist Veronica Cruz says accessing legal abortions in Mexico is incredibly difficult. (Post continues after video.)
Federal health regulations that guarantee rape victims unrestricted access to safe and legal abortion services were introduced across Mexico earlier this year. This law was designed to supersede local rulings in instances such as these, but as Alex Ali, the girl’s lawyer explained, many service providers have been left unsure of whose orders to follow.
“The new regulation requires health services to provide abortions for any woman or girl who says she has been raped, without any other requirements. This has been enough to convince authorities in other states with the same criminal code, so why not in Sonora? It’s down to political will,” Ali told The Guardian.
The classification downgrade essentially means no rape occurred, and leads to the victim being left without options.
At almost 12 weeks pregnant, the girl’s only option is to travel to Mexico City, where access to a legal abortion for victims of rape is available into the third trimester.
The Marie Stopes reproductive healthcare and abortion clinic in Mexico City was forced to close after ongoing protests and government intervention. Image source: Youtube.
“This case reflects the systemic problem we have in Mexico, where various and diverse obstacles are put up to stop rape victims from accessing abortion," Ali continued.
"The federal government must assure that state health entities know they must guarantee women’s reproductive rights in these cases.”
Mexico currently has the highest number of violence, murder and reported sexual abuse incidents against children under the age of 14 among all of the world's OECD countries.