Paraguay makes no exceptions: The United Nations and Amnesty are outraged

by victoriab on February 10, 2016 - 10:21pm

Abortion has always been a highly controversial subject. All around the world, thoughts about the issue have been antithetic one from another, depending on which worldview is shared or not. Abortion in Paraguay for example, is illegal. However, are there any exceptions at accepting an abortion? If the pregnancy shows no considerable threat to the health of the carrier, is it ethical to refuse to perform an abortion, or should the mother have the choice? Paraguay, the most prodigiously practicing catholic country, has the strictest laws on abortion, and was the advocate of an important issue last year

 

In August 2015, the young Paraguayan adolescent gave birth to a healthy baby by cesarean. However, this was a highly controversial incident, which shocked the country’s population. The at-the-time 10-year-old girl reported to authorities that she was sexually abused and impregnated by her stepfather. She was denied an abortion, because of extremely strict abortion laws in Paraguay: the country forbids abortion, except in case the health of the mother is endangered (“Abortion in Paraguay”). In this case, Paraguay’s health officials thought the girl seemed healthy and concluded it would be more dangerous to abort the baby than to deliver it. On an other hand, Amnesty’s Americas directors Erika Guervaraand believe it is” [no] excuse [to] the human rights violations she suffered.” (Romo) The United Nations (UN) also follows the same thought. Both sides obviously have a very divergent point of view on the subject. How can this be? It is mostly because of the different culture and worldview these set of groups share.

 

Why would Paraguay refuse abortion, especially to a child who has been raped? To start, we must remind ourselves that this Central American country, like most, has very strong catholic roots. The government is today still noticeably practicing. According to the Catholic Church, abortion is ‘”a grave evil” (“Abortion”). The religion “opposes all forms of abortion procedures”, because it believes that right from the moment of conception, the embryo should have a right to life and that an abortion would take this right away (“Catholic Church and abortion”). Therefore, the Health Minister of Paraguay will not accept under any condition to perform an abortion if the life of the girl does not seem at risk. In other words, the government refuses this medical operation because its outlook on life is very highly based on catholic beliefs and culture. But how is it that, even after understanding a little more about why Paraguay would have refused the abortion, other national organizations, such as the UN and Amnesty, have an entirely different way of seeing this. It is mainly because they have a much different general worldview. These organizations fight for human rights, believe in equality and of individual rights. They fight for humanity, and to their eyes, refusing an abortion to a 10-year-old who has been raped is unconceivable. To understand their point of view compared to Paraguay’s, we must take a step back and realize that these organizations are mostly situated in more developed and secular countries (i.e. United States, Canada). These countries have governments who are more disconnected from religion; therefore, their worldview is not based on the same ideas and beliefs. They support a more modern approach, which follow values of human rights, health, and freedom. They cannot conceive the idea of putting an abused child health at sake, just because of a religious belief.  

 

Worldview are widely controversial, but taking a critical angle to analyze and compare two gives us a better on picture on how some cultures might do things that seem outrageous to us. In this example, Paraguay, and the UN and Amnesty clearly do not share the same cultural core. Still, is it easy to set our selves into one group definitely? For some people, yes, but for others, it is not that easy. So, are there any exceptions at accepting an abortion? The answer depends on whether one supports religion, or human rights. Is it acceptable to let a 10-year-old carry a child? Is rape an excuse? Should strong religious beliefs ever be broken? Depending on our position and background, the answer to each question might defer. The world is not a conforming platform, and to understand others, we must take all worldviews into consideration.

 

 

For further information, feel free to take a look at Amnesty International’s blog: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/americas/lucky-to-be-alive-despite-paraguays-...

 

Comments

I really enjoyed the comparison you did between the worldviews of Paraguay and the UN and Amnesty. I think adding a gendered lens might further your analysis. A sexist mentality is coupled with an anti-abortion perspective.
The illegality of abortion strips women of the ability to be in charge of their own bodies. Not all women may find themselves in current situations, which they think can cohesively endure the presence of a newborn child. It is unfair that politicians, who are mostly men, decide this for them. Women in these situations who are forced to give birth may cause them to put their initial life goals on hold. Additionally, bringing a child into this situation can be detrimental to them, for example, the 10-year-old girl you mentioned in your post.
Women who have had children may find themselves victims of the “mommy track.” The mommy track pertains to women who’ve just had children enduring dwindling opportunities in the work force. Legalizing abortion could solve all of these problems.
Pro-Life also endangers the lives of women subject to this law. Anti-Abortion causes too many women to resort to risky alternatives, such as illegal abortions, which are un-professional and can be un-sanitary, or the infamous coat hanger.
I’ve provided a link that further analyzes the sexism of anti-abortion:
http://www.articlecats.com/index.php/pro-life-mean-pro-sexism/

Your article had me all interested from the the start as you touched some major issues and civil rights. I liked that you pointed out some questions and let me think about them. I found out that the early American feminists were facing conditions similar to those in developing countries today, such as Paraguay and Latin America in general. Abortion was always an issue even among feminists themselves at that time. They thought the same way as Paraguay government. Thus, feminists were strongly opposed to abortion, they believed in the worth of all human lives (The Feminist Case Against Abortion americamagazine.org). Nevertheless, during second wave of feminism, things changed. During the 1960s, abortion was still a feminist issue. Some feminists focused the light on restrictive abortion laws that made abortion available only to privileged women while poor women were unable to access the procedure and as a result they raised awareness of the dangers of illegal abortions that killed thousands of women each year. I believe that the attention of such organization as the United Nations and Amnesty would raise a wave of feminism that may change things as it happened in America recently. I suggest an article in “America Magazine” that reveal such issue .