14 September 2007

Catholic bastards

I won't make an apology for the title to any Catholics out there — if the shoe fits, wear it, as the saying goes. I'm as mad as I'm sad to write again about this. Another mentally handicapped girl raped, once more the bigotry, the religious fanatism and the hypocritical despise for life of a few people in power keeping that poor girl from having a safe abortion. I wrote about abortion in Argentina once, of the stories of some girls who went through the same horror, and several other times, about why this seems not to change, ever.

A very poor 19-year-old girl in Entre Ríos, with a severe mental disability, is carrying a baby. She was raped and, through the person in charge of her care, in this case her mother, she's entitled to request an abortion, which must be done without any delays, for free, in any public hospital. But the doctors didn't want to do it, the hospital delayed the procedure, and then the inevitable: like so many other times before, some Catholic freak in the hospital staff calls some fanatic Catholic judge or whoever, and gets an injunction, a ban, or, as in this case, decides to put the unborn child under judicial custody, as if it were a minor in a risky environment.

After another court order cancelled the fetus's custody transfer, the father of the girl, who for 16 years hasn't bothered to support his many sons and daughters or even go to check them every once in a while, suddenly popped up out of nowhere and, with a devout Catholic lawyer on his back, he demanded to have custody of his daughter and stop the abortion. The father is not a wealthy man, but now he has the Catholic Church on his side (the lawyer is a well-known militant member of a Catholic lay order), and together they'll do anything to deprive the girl from his right to rid herself of the fetus, or at least, to delay the procedure as much as possible, until it's too late. They'll promise (they have promised) they'll take care of everything. Such a thing has never happened, that I know.

Mind you, you can be pro-choice or against-choice (the self-righteous "pro-life" title I won't grant you), but this is the girl's right. It's clearly, unmistakably, concisely written in the damn Argentine Penal Code, under Article 86. It's been there for ages. The framers of the Code were probably very Christian and God-fearing, but they saw that forcing a woman with a mental disability to carry a fetus to term and then raise it was cruel beyond measure, and was sure to mean horrible suffering for both. This girl has the right, and the state, through the management of the public hospital that serves the area, has the legal obligation to terminate the pregnancy. Everyone trying to block the abortion (the lawyers, the judges, the doctors, the political administration of the hospital, everyone) is acting against the law.

So how come they're not challenged? How do they get away with this? Beats me. Justice is slow and corrupt, yes, but it does come some times. Will those lawyers and judges, who value their own religious prejudices over the law and even over basic human compassion, be judged some day in turn?


  1. This is the sort of thing that makes me embarrassed to even mention that I was raised a Catholic.

  2. Of course you know that's why I noted "if the shoe fits...". I was raised a Catholic myself and my parents are Catholic. Many Catholics won't renounce their faith, and as long as they don't harm anybody but themselves, it's OK with me. But these fanatics pay no attention to the law or even to common decency.

    I'd like to see moderate Catholics stand up to this criminal madness sometime, but I don't see that coming soon.

  3. Pablo –

    Apart from the despicable actions of religious zealots, it seems that the doctors and the hospital that refused or delayed treatment of the patient should face disciplinary action, as should the employee that broke patient confidentiality.

    Considering the large number of terminations performed in Argentina, it seems as if this patient, who needs an urgent medical procedure (which in reality is the crux of the matter), is having her health endangered because she is poor and handicapped.


  4. Pablo, what you say applies to me as well. I was also born and raised Catholic, and so were my parents.

    But one thing is what you're taught, and there this completely different thing called reality. Living here in Canada, I joined the United Church by pure chance (as I was hired to sing in their choir), but once I found out more about what they stand for and what they believe in, I realized that I was cheering for the wrong team. At least, that was my case.

    A few weeks ago, we had to register our kids to go to a Catholic school (they're public here in Canada) and -of course- they asked for birth certificates, etc, but also for baptism certificates. My daughter Florencia was baptized in the United Church, so of course I got the mandatory "there's a problem with your daughter, she's not Catholic", to which I replied "there is NO problem with my daughter just because she's not Catholic".

    It took me a while to explain to this lady that not being Catholic is not 'a problem'. There's people outside your little world that is different than you, learn to live with them.

    But I digress. The thing is that we have this church that has been linked to some of the most somber moments of our history, and has witnessed -and some times even tacitly approved- some of the most horrific crimes. There are news about a priest who has been accused of molesting children almost weekly (one today, if I'm not wrong).

    But terminating a pregnancy? Of a handicapped girl who was raped? No, that one IS a crime.


    Sorry for the length of this comment, Pablo...


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