For all of the debate about whether abortion should be allowed for victims of rape, there hasn’t been much discussion about the actual consequences of prohibiting abortion under such circumstances. Sadly, we don’t have to imagine the horrific impact such a policy would have. Evidence exists around the world in a number of countries that severely restrict abortion or ban it altogether. Peru is one of the worst offenders.
Currently, the Center is representing a young woman in Peru where abortion is prohibited in cases of rape and incest. Over the course of four years, the young woman L.C. was repeatedly raped as a teenager until by age 13, she became pregnant.
Devastated by the pregnancy, she threw herself from the roof of her neighbor’s building—but her suicide attempt failed. The broken spine she suffered could have been repaired, but doctors, intimidated by the law, ignored the value of her well-being and chose instead to save her pregnancy. Two months later, L.C. miscarried. The surgery she needed was finally performed another month after. But it was too late. The enormous delay dramatically diminished the success of the intervention, and today, L.C. is quadriplegic.
In 2009, the Center took on her case to hold the Peruvian government accountable, filing a petition before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
And one year ago, CEDAW ruled against Peru, calling on the government to amend its law to allow women to obtain an abortion in cases of rape and sexual assault, establish a mechanism to ensure the availability of those abortion services, and guarantee access to abortion services when a woman’s life or health is in danger-circumstances under which abortion is currently legal in the country.
Peru still has failed to comply with CEDAW’s ruling, even failing to provide compensation to L.C. or rehabilitation measures. It’s well past time for the Peruvian government to step up and take responsibility for the tragedy that L.C. suffered and prevent it from happening over and over again. The Center is calling on Peru to once and for all protect the lives, health, and human rights of women in its country. The world will be watching.