Sunday, March 8, 2009

Church Condemns Abortion for Nine-year-old Girl

The nine-year-old Brazilian girl I last wrote about (was about to say "blogged" and didn't feel happy about "verbing" it- yes, I just "verbed" verb) has now had her twin embryos aborted. It is perhaps no surprise to hear that the Catholic church did not support the abortion. What is astounding is that the Brazilian regional archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, has announced that the mother of the girl and the doctors who performed the procedure would be excommunicated from the church.

There are a couple of ironic aspects to this antiquated response. First, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, a Vatican cleric, has defended the Brazilian archbishop's decision with a statement affirming that "Life must always be protected." Does this mean, then, that the girl's life is irrelevant? Somehow worth less than the potential lives of the two embryos? Doctors warned that it was unlikely that the girl's small body could withstand the pregnancy. I suppose it only reflects the usual religious stance on abortion, even in cases of rape, but when the victim is a child, it makes the trivialising of the woman's/girl's life pointedly obvious.

The second is that the perpetrator of the rapes will not be excommunicated from the Catholic church. His acts of child rape are less heinous than that of the girl's mother and doctors (attempting to preserve the life of a girl who has been abused) in the church's eyes.

On International Women's Day, stories like this one are a timely reminder that the actions of men, such as those with authority in this major church, continue to have an extremely negative affect on women in developing countries. While there is a very real gender divide in countries like Australia, it is a sad thing to write that it would be something of an achievement if we could proclaim that all the women of the world were only subject to the kinds of discrimination and oppression that we are.

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