A story out of Columbia demonstrates on an extreme end the need for abortions to be freely available. A 10 year old recently gave birth by caesarean section. She is from the autonomous Wayuu tribe in Manaure, Colombia which means that her abuser cannot be prosecuted by the Columbian courts. The article goes on to describe the potential physical harm when children give birth.
“The placenta preferentially will take nutrition from the mother, who really is a child,” said Sherry Thomas, an ob/gyn at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, Calif. That means that the developing fetus will leach calcium and other nutrients from a child who should still be growing herself. Likewise, pregnancy puts a major strain on the cardiovascular system, according to Wall. Pregnant women have about 50 percent more blood circulating through their bodies compared with non-pregnant women. [8 Odd Bodily Changes During Pregnancy]
The greatest danger, however, is to the pelvic floor. Girls may start ovulating and menstruating as early as age 9, though the average is around 12 to 13. (Some studies suggest that the average age of first menstruation is dropping, but the data is not conclusive.) Just because a girl can get pregnant, though, doesn’t mean she can safely deliver a baby. The pelvis does not fully widen until the late teens, meaning that young girls may not be able to push the baby through the birth canal.
The results are horrific, said Wall and Thomas, who have both worked in Africa treating women in the aftermath of such labors. Girls may labor for days; many die. Their babies often don’t survive labor either.
The women and girls who do survive often develop fistulas, which are holes between the vaginal wall and the rectum or bladder. When the baby’s head pushes down and gets stuck, it can cut portions of the mother’s soft tissue between its skull and her pelvic bones. As a result, the tissue dies, and a hole forms. Feces and urine then leak through the hole and out of the vagina. Women with fistulas are often divorced and shunned. And young girls are at higher risk.
“The younger you are, the more trauma will occur, because the pelvic floor isn’t developed enough,” Thomas said. In that way, she said, the young Colombian girl was fortunate to have access to a hospital that could provide a caesarean section.
As growth tends to slow in girls once menstruation starts, a 10-year-old capable of getting pregnant is likely to be especially small, with a small pelvis, Wall said. And even if puberty onset is happening earlier (Wall isn’t entirely convinced by the current data), pelvises are certainly not maturing any faster, he said. If puberty does occur earlier, that would put young girls at risk for dangerous pregnancies for a longer period of time.
The first issue that come up here is the idea of separate laws based upon cultural differences. Unless the father is under 12, this girl was abused. It’s as simple as that, and no cultural or religious differences should matter. According to Wikipedia, the Wayuu are polygamous with marriages occurring when the girls are as young as 10 or 12; basically to be as sure as possible they are virgins. Child abuse should never be excused on the basis of religion or culture. There is no room for equivocation here. If sexual abuse, particularly of children, is practised, it should be fought as strongly as possible.
In Canada, we have many people who argue that abortion should never be allowed under any circumstances. Well, a circumstance such as this should be argument enough against that attitude. In our society, that child should never have known she was pregnant. If the abuse was known, she should have been given the ‘morning after pill’. If the knowledge came later, an abortion should have been performed without her knowing what was happening. She is too young to have any say in the matter, and if her parents refused, the procedure should be carried out in much the way blood transfusions are given to the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The argument that follows from those opposed to women is that some claim they are not against abortion when the pregnancy is the result of rape. In a case such as this, any sex is rape. But then the next question becomes–who decided if a rape has occurred? Is it only if someone is charged or even convicted? What about a case of date rape or an assault where the women is afraid to charge her assaulter? It is undoubtedly an offence against a women if she must be quizzed about the details of the sexual act that resulted in pregnancy.
Children’s Rights, Women’s Rights, Human Rights. They are all the same thing.