June 27, 2008

Romanians to Rule on UK Abortion for Rape Victim, 11

By Toby Green

A Romanian government committee is to decide today whether an 11- year old Romanian girl raped by her uncle can travel to Britain for an abortion.

The case has provoked a bitter debate that has divided the country, where more than 80 per cent of the population belong to the Orthodox Church.

The girl is 20 weeks pregnant, but in Romania abortion is only legal up to 14 weeks, unless the mother's health is in danger. Her family want to take the girl to Britain, where abortion is legal up to 24 weeks if two doctors consider that the mother's mental or physical health would be placed in greater danger by continuing with the pregnancy.

Yesterday, 20 church groups threatened to press charges if the girl was allowed to have an abortion in Romania because of exceptional circumstances. They have also released a statement calling for the government committee to ban the girl from travelling to Britain for the abortion.

However, officially, the Romanian Orthodox Church supports the girl's family. Constantin Stoica, a spokesperson, said that the case was "an exceptional situation which must be treated in an exceptional manner and the family is the only one to take this decision". The pregnancy was discovered earlier this month when the girl's parents took her to her GP, thinking she was unwell. She told the doctor she had been raped by her uncle, 19, who has since disappeared.

Her father said: "He told my daughter that we would beat her if we found out what had happened, and that we would abandon her, so she kept quiet ... I wanted to kill him but he has gone on the run, no one knows where he is."

Two previous hearings have issued contradictory rulings. One ruled she should be allowed to have an abortion in Britain, but the other said she should give birth, reportedly calling the pregnancy "natural". The National Child Protection Authority in Romania has stated that they support the right for an abortion because of the trauma the mother has already suffered.

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