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Let girls be girls, not mothers

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With Jenna Cocullo:

#NiñasNoMadres, which translates to “girls not mothers” is the latest outrage spread across the Argentina, on social media accompanied by photos of older women when they were eleven years old posted with the hashtag.

The movement started after an 11 year old child was raped in Argentina and forced to give birth to a child that was conceived while she was being raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend.

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“I want you to remove what the old man put inside me,” she told the doctors, according to her lawyers who have not released her name due to laws that protect young children from the public.

But the doctors refused. Not only did they disobey her wishes, but they went against the law. Rape is among the few instances in Argentina where women are allowed to legally undergo an abortion.

The doctors reportedly tricked the young girl into thinking she was taking vitamins when in fact she was given medication to advance the growth of her foetus. She was then forced to undergo a C-section. The baby is unlikely to survive due to the forced premature birth.

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For the men who don’t know what a C-section is: it’s a procedure where a woman’s stomach is cut open, her organs taken out and put on an adjoining table while the doctors remove the baby, then once the baby is safely removed, she gets reassembled and stitched back up. The girl’s doctors reportedly said that during the procedure, her blood level rose so high her life was at risk.

The hospital allowed anti-abortion activists to visit her room and shame her for wanting to terminate the baby. They apparently came to the hospital under the direction of the archbishop who sent out a message through a texting app. In the message he used her real name and asked the anti-abortion activists to “guard” her unborn child.

As if the trauma of rape wasn’t enough, this young child had to go through the additional psychological trauma of being lied to by doctors, shamed by her community, and face public humiliation from a religious leader.

Anti-abortion laws cause violence toward women. Malawi is no different. Fifteen to twenty women a day will go to the hospital after they have unsuccessfully attempted to perform an abortion on themselves, because the conservative laws have left them no other choice. Most have their wombs removed due to infection and countless women suffer psychological damage when they are shamed from friends, family, and neighbours for getting pregnant.

Forcing a woman to have a child gives her the impossible task of having to choose to disrupt her life’s goals and potentially go into poverty, to take care of her child, or living with constant guilt for giving it up for adoption.

Birth control methods are meant to control birth; meaning preventing something from being birthed. Therefore, abortions should be perfectly legal and moral because foetuses are not yet birthed. In fact, before a certain point in pregnancy a foetus is a fertilized cell and nothing more. It is no more alive than the sperm we fill in a condom, or kill with birth control pills, to prevent pregnancy.

Anti-abortion laws have no place in society. It is not society’s place to choose how that young Argentinean girl should live her life. It is not their place to decide that she should give up her life to take care of a child she never wanted. A foetus does not have a right to life. A young girl has the right to say no, to say that she does not want to undergo the physical, psychological, and socio-economic harm a pregnancy will bring her. She has a right to live HER life to the fullest and with autonomy. She has a right to say that she wants, for the time being, to remain simply a girl.

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