Skip to main content

Raped 11-year-old stirs an abortion debate in Chile

By Elwyn Lopez, CNN
updated 2:33 PM EDT, Thu July 11, 2013
The President of Chile Sebastian Pinera in his official visit to El Salvador on June 4, 2013.
The President of Chile Sebastian Pinera in his official visit to El Salvador on June 4, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Belen" is an 11-year-old rape victim who became pregnant
  • She says she will have the baby; abortion is illegal in Chile
  • The president called her "mature" for her decision
  • His comments set off a debate over the abortion ban

(CNN) -- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera stoked an abortion debate in his country over remarks he made about an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped by her mother's partner.

Abortion is illegal without exception in the South American country.

The girl, known only as "Belen," said in an interview that she would have the baby.

Pinera, a supporter of the abortion ban, said Belen's decision shows "depth and maturity" and asked the country's health minister to personally watch over her health.

Political opponents seized on the president's comments, creating a national debate on the issue.

Former President Michelle Bachelet, who is running for the presidency once again, told Radio ADN that abortion should be an option in the case of rape.

Belen is "a girl with her entire life ahead of her and she requires protection," Bachelet said. "That being said, the option of abortion, in this case, for rape, seems to be the right solution."

Pinera said that in the interest of the girl's health, doctors will consider whether it makes sense to induce a premature birth if it protects Belen.

He added, "the life of the mother always comes first, and we are going to protect Belen's life with everything medicine has to offer and with the care of the public health system."

But some say that an 11-year-old girl is not mature enough to take care of a child.

"More than brave, she is a victim and we have to treat her like a victim and we have the protect her," Chilean Sen. Fulvio Rossi said. "The nation has to protect her and it has to give answers to Belen and to many other women who suffer on a daily basis from the neglect of their most basic rights."

Another senator, Juan Antonio Coloma, defended the current laws, saying that abortion should be prohibited no matter what.

"What is relevant is to help this girl who has been victim to a rape, but that, from my perspective, can't ever justify what is worse, which is to abort that child inside her," he said.

While the debate unfolds in the media, a psychologist said that Belen's family should look for support away from the public eye. Having a child at such a young age is a lot to deal with, and her understanding the choice she made will be facilitated by denying interviews and staying out of the spotlight, Ana Maria Aron said.

CNN Chile's Camilo Silva contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 6:12 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
From giant zippers to buttock-shaped balloons, Jun Kitagawa's public art is whimsical, erotic and playful.
updated 4:43 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 6:29 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT