I've been a bit reluctant to post on this horrific story of a nine year old girl abused by her stepfather and found to be pregnant with twins, and who has now had an abortion because the full story seemed to be lacking. But the Lifesite has now provided some crucial background to the case. I therefore reproduce it in full, with my emphases.
The facts of the case
"Archbishop Announces Excommunication of Doctor and Family Members for Abortion on Nine-Year-Old Girl
Calls abortion a "holocaust worse than the six million Jews, which we lament every year"
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, RECIFE, BRAZIL, March 5, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) -
The Archbishop of the Brazilian city of Recife has announced the excommunication of a doctor who performed an abortion on a nine year old girl, as well as the family members who made the decision to carry out the procedure.
The girl, whose name has not been revealed by the Brazilian media, was found to be pregnant with twins recently. Her stepfather has confessed that he began molesting her at the age of three and that he is the father of the child. He is under arrest pending an investigation of his relationship with his stepdaughter, as well as her 14 year old sister.
Although doctors at the hospital where the girl was initially admitted, Imip, reportedly said that her life was not in danger, her mother reportedly transferred her to another hospital, Cisam, that was willing to do the abortion, which is not penalized under Brazilian law because the girl was raped.
José Cardoso Sobrinho, Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, confirmed that while the child would not be held accountable for the act, the doctor who carried out the abortion and anyone who assisted or gave their approval were excommunicated by the Church.
"To be subject to this penalty is it is necessary to be of age. The Church is very benevolent, especially with minors," the Archbishop told the media. "Now the adults, those who approved, who carried out this abortion, are excommunicated."
Sobrinho brushed aside the notion that the legality of the abortion under Brazilian law was a sufficient excuse for those involved."The law of God is above all human law," he said. "Therefore, when a human law, meaning a law promulgated by human legislators, is contrary to the law of God, this human law has no value.
"Abortion, he said, is "homicide against innocent life. We are talking about a silent holocaust, that kills a one million innocents in Brazil and fifty million in the world every year, a holocaust worse than the six million Jews, which we lament every year."
The Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife was preparing to file a motion to prevent the abortion when news arrived that it had already been carried out. The Archbishop's decision to announce the excommunication, which is automatic under the Church's law for those who participate in an abortion, was met with denunciations publicized by Brazil's media, which is dominated by liberal ideologues. Among those quoted was Brazil's pro-abortion health minister, Jose Gomes Temporao, who repeated the claim that the girl was at risk from the pregnancy.
However, an attorney for the Archdiocese, who was preparing to file a motion to stop the abortion when word came that it had already been done, told the media that "various specialists from Imip, which is a major hospital, say that she didn't have a risk of dying. They could have waited longer."
In an interview with ElPais.com yesterday, Sobrinho held firm.
"I'm not sorry. What I did was to declare the excommunication. It is my obligation to alert the people, so that they may fear the laws of God," he told the online publication.
The Archbishop will reportedly give a homily against abortion at the launch of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops annual Fraternity Campaign this Saturday. Last year's Campaign was entitled "Fraternity and the Defense of Life" and galvanized the nation's Catholic majority against the practice. A nationwide poll last year indicated that 68% of Brazilians oppose the further legalization of the abortion, which is not criminally penalized only in rape cases, or when the mother's life is in danger. Sobrinho made headlines earlier this month when he denounced the distribution of millions of contraceptives for Carnival, a festival that precedes the Catholic celebration of Lent."
A few points
This is a terrible story.
One must feel desperately sorry for the raped child.
Yet our first instincts as Catholics must be to oppose abortion in any circumstances - not to find excuses for it occurring as many commenters on other sites and blogs appear to be doing. Two wrongs simply do not make a right.
Moreover, those fearing for the child's mental health should consider that she may well have experienced the abortion as a further assault on her body over which she had no control.
I have to say that my first instinct is not sympathy for the mother in this case. Was her judgment impaired due to the horrific circumstances? Perhaps, but on the face of it she was either culpable in not stopping the abuse from occurring in the first place, or must have been utterly oblivious to her children not to realize that something was wrong. And she clearly made active decisions to insist on an abortion to deal with the situation. Frankly, I'm surprised child protection authorities haven't taken custody or at least challenged the mother's authority to make decisions for the child until it is clear that she had no role in allowing the abuse to occur.
If there really is a double effect case to be made as some have suggested, then the judgment should be made taking into account the expert advice of a priest. Clearly this didn't occur. We should therefore laud the Archbishop for defending Church teaching.
An example for bishops everywhere.
And in the meantime, Melbourne trembled...
And possibly not completely unrelated to the subject of abortion, Melbourne had an earthquake last night...