In a statement to the BBC, Cruz accused the Catholic Church and pro-life groups of putting pressure on the girl and her mother “to change their minds and desist from going ahead to terminate the pregnancy.”
The minor became pregnant in the city of Yapacaní in the Santa Cruz administrative district after suffering repeated sexual abuse by her 61-year-old grandfather, who is now under arrest. The girl is 21 weeks pregnant.
Víctor Hugo Valda, the bishops’ Delegate for Health of the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, that the Church didn’t interfere or intervene in any way and that as of this moment “no one has spoken not even with the girl nor with the mother.”
“What the Church did was appear in person on Monday at the hospital so that the voice of the girl and the mother who didn’t want to interrupt the pregnancy be respected, and because in addition, forcing her to have an abortion would be a crime. The Church was present for that and to ask about the girl’s condition,” he explained.
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Valda also criticized that the Church is being “accused of abducting” the minor.
“To be clear, the institution that made the decision as to where the girl has to go, and that physically transferred the girl, from (the hospital) to the shelter, was the Ombudsman’s Office for Children and Adolescents,” he noted.
The bishops’ delegate for health also reiterated that the Church wasn’t “physically present during the transfer of the minor nor did it participate in the decisions about the girl.”
“They decided to take the girl to this home after the Church publicly offered it,” he stressed.
The bishops’ General Secretariat urged the country’s authorities Oct. 26 to respect and protect the right to life and health of the 11-year-old girl and her unborn baby.
“Both lives deserve to be and must be protected. We affirm that both the rights of the girl, as well as those of the baby growing in her womb, must be protected, since both are innocent and victims of a criminal act” which the perpetrator must be held responsible for,” the Bishops’ Conference said in an Oct. 26 statement.
The bishops stressed “that no one can be forced to perform abortions, not even given the seriousness of sexual violence, because abortion in Bolivia is a crime, even on grounds where it has been decriminalized (such as rape) and no one can be forced, not even the healthcare personnel, to commit this crime.”
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