Mexico Admits Responsibility for Denying Child Rape Victim's Rights

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Landmark Settlement Reached in Case of 13-year-old Mexican Rape Victim Denied Abortion
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Washington, DC, March 8, -- the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners in Mexico, Alaide Foppa and GIRE (Information Group on Reproductive Choice), will sign a friendly settlement with the Mexican government in a case brought before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. The case was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Alaide Foppa on behalf of "Paulina," a girl who was raped at the age of 13 and then denied an abortion due to the personal and religious beliefs of justice and health authorities in her home state of Baja California, Mexico. Although first-trimester abortion is legal in cases of rape throughout Mexico, the procedure is nearly impossible to access due to a regulatory void that allows public officials to abuse their authority.

In addition to a monetary settlement, the Mexican government will issue a decree regulating guidelines for access to abortion for women who have been raped. The government also agreed to provide Paulina and her son significant compensation for health care, education, and professional development.

"This is the most important legal victory for women in Mexico in a decade," says Luisa Cabal, Director of the International Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "It is the first time a Latin American government has acknowledged that access to legal abortion is a human right, and now the Mexican government is required to ensure that this right is not violated."

Last November, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a landmark decision in a similar case in Peru. In that case, K.L. v. Peru, also brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners, a 17-year-old Peruvian woman was forced to carry a fatally impaired fetus to term, even though she was legally entitled to an abortion. The decision established precedent in international law that denying access to legal abortion violates women’s most basic human rights.

"Paulina’s case is emblematic. Many women in Latin America continue to face barriers to abortion even where it is legal," says Lilian Sepúlveda, Legal Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This settlement is another step forward for women’s human rights. Governments have a clear obligation to ensure that women’s rights – including their right to safe abortion – cannot be curtailed at the whim of public officials."