14-Year-Old Rape Victim Dies in Childbirth

'Her body was not ready for a pregnancy,' hospital director says in Paraguay
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2018 12:09 PM CDT
Youth Paz Rojas marches on International Women's Day in Asuncion, Paraguay, with a poster reading, "This is my body. Don't touch. Don't rape. Don't kill."   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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(Newser) – Paraguay is facing pressure to rewrite its strict abortion laws following the death of a 14-year-old rape victim during childbirth. Complications meant the unnamed teen—whose alleged rapist, 37, is in custody—was hospitalized for 20 days before going into labor. She then experienced a respiratory issue that prompted an emergency C-section, the Guardian reports. A baby boy was delivered weighing 9 pounds, 14 ounces, but the mother suffered an embolism and three cardiac arrests, per 9News. Doctors tried "advanced resuscitation in intensive care, but we could not save her," says the director of the National Hospital of Itauguá, 20 miles north of the capital of Asuncion. "Her body was not ready for a pregnancy." The baby is on a breathing machine.

In Paraguay, sexual abuse is prevalent but not a viable reason for an abortion, only allowed when pregnancy threatens the mother's life. The decision to deny an abortion to a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl raped by her stepfather drew the ire of activists worldwide in 2015. But the girl, who survived childbirth, was one of 889 aged 10 to 14 to give birth that year, according to the nation's heath ministry. "It is terrifying that her story will remain all too common unless Paraguay does more to protect victims of sexual violence," an Amnesty International rep said at the time, per the Independent. Explaining a lack of change since, an Amnesty rep in Paraguay says that "authorities take advantage of the Catholic majority in the country to promote laws based on religious convictions." (El Salvador is under similar pressure.)

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