“It will be like having a doll in my arms”

Good morning, and welcome to the worst story you’ve read all day even though it’s only 9am.

Earlier this week, we covered the story of the 11-year-old Chilean girl who is pregnant as a result of rape by her mother’s partner, and who is being denied an abortion because they’re not legal in Chile, even in cases of rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life. This case ticks all three of those boxes.

Raw Story reported yesterday that Chilean President Sebastian Pinera is praising the “maturity” of this little girl because she will not seek an illegal abortion. Everything about this story makes my heart hurt:

The conservative president of Chile praised an 11-year-old girl’s “depth and maturity” for continuing a pregnancy caused by repeated rapes by her mother’s partner. According to the Associated Press, President Sebastian Pinera made the remarks to the press in an attempt to explain why the victim is not being offered the option to terminate the pregnancy.

“I’ve asked the health minister to personally look after the (girl’s) health,” Pinera said. “She’s 14 weeks pregnant, and yesterday she surprised us all with words showing depth and maturity, when she said that, despite the pain caused by the man who raped her, she wanted to have and take care of her baby.”

… The 11-year-old girl herself gave a TV interview in which her face was obscured. In it, she said, “It will be like having a doll in my arms. I’m going to love the baby very much, even though it comes from that man who hurt me.”

The man who raped the girl has been arrested and confessed to serially sexually abusing her over the course of two years, since she was nine. Her mother shocked the country when she defended her partner, saying the relationship with her daughter was consensual.

Yeah, I just… I got nothing. All I can say is that my heart breaks for this little girl, and for any person living in a place where their right to decide what happens to their own body is repeatedly violated like this. This is what is looks like when anti-choicers get their way. The most vulnerable people get hurt, and then hurt again, and sometimes, they die.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

    This is like a horror movie that is also anti-choice Republicans’ wet dream.

    Still, we all know, if this 11-year-old was Pinera’s or some asshole Republican legislator’s daughter, he’d be hauling her to the nearest abortion clinic so fast it would make your head spin, not trumpeting to the news how his adorable baby 11-year-old thinks her pregnancy is going to result in having a “doll.” F’n morons.

  • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

    This…is trickly.

    There is no question that what the Chilean president said was beyond offensive. There is no question that the little girl should have legal access to an abortion.

    However, body autonomy goes both ways, doesn’t it? If the decision to have the baby is truly hers (repeat: is truly hers), then she should be supported. She should also be taught that having a baby is not at all like “having a doll”. She should be given all of the information needed about what will happen to her body during and after pregnancy and childbirth in order to make an informed decision.

    Unfortunately, I really don’t think that is happening in this case. And that, more than the fact that she’s being praised for (allegedly) saying that she wants to keep the baby, is what scares me the most.

    • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

      “However, body autonomy goes both ways, doesn’t it?”: I’m sorry, as much as I support empowered teenagers and oppose the shaming of teen mothers, an 11-YEAR-OLD is A CHILD. Feminists cannot let their teen-pregnancy rhetoric get in the way of the fact that an 11-year-old girl is not physically equipped to carry a pregnancy. An 11-year-old does not have a pelvis that is developed enough to sustain normal reproduction. An 11-year-old faces unreasonable and unacceptable health risks from pregnancy. One of the main causes of Africa’s high maternal mortality and fistula rates is physically underdeveloped girls marrying and becoming impregnated before their bodies are sufficiently developed. This girl does not need to make any “decision”. This was put upon her by the horrific abuse of a molesting adult. No 11-year-old is prepared to understand the risks and consequences of carrying a pregnancy and raising a child, no matter how much she is “educated” and “supported” by adults. The adults in her life who care about her should be helping her to terminate the pregnancy, for her health.

      To put this another way: You know those parents in Wisconsin who are serving a (paltry) jail sentence because they stood around and prayed instead of taking their diabetic daughter to the emergency room while she went into diabetic coma and died before their eyes? That is what this scenario is. A train wreck. Pure irresponsibility and ignorance on the part of all adults surrounding this child.

      • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

        #1: I’m a womanist, not a feminist.

        #2: Africa has 54 countries and thousands of different cultures. Don’t speak about it like it one homogenous unit.

        Anyway, this girl has been used as a pawn for most of her young life. She was used by her rapist and now she’s being used by anti-choicers who want to gorce her give birth. Do pro-choicers *really* want to force someone to have an abortion she (allegedly) doesn’t want?How is that pro-choice?

        • http://feministing.com/members/bromleybodam/ Nancy

          I agree that forcing an abortion on someone is terrible, but in this case, I’m not sure an 11 year old has the capacity to give fully informed consent to giving birth. It’s a terrible situation because ultimately I think she is too young to decide either way, I don’t think she will fully understand what is happening regardless of what happens. That being said, we don’t allow 11 year olds to get their tongues pierced because they aren’t old enough to make that decision and I don’t think they’re old enough to decide to give birth either. And if it’s impossible for her to decide what she wants to do due to her age then I think the adults in charge have a responsibility to err on the side of least bodily harm, which would be an abortion. Giving birth will not only gravely injure her but possibly permanently alter her body to the point that she would be unable to have children at a later date. I think the least harmful decision here is to abort and give her a chance at a normal reproductive life once she is old enough.

          • http://feministing.com/members/ashurredly/ ashley

            Getting a tongue piercing and having an abortion are not the same thing. Abortion is a much more serious decision and procedure, and while that might indicate that an eleven year old is even less well-equipped to make that choice, I think that the weight of such a procedure is enough that it should not be done without the consent of the person whose uterus is involved.

          • http://feministing.com/members/decius/ Dan

            If she isn’t old enough to give informed consent to give birth, she certainly isn’t old enough to give informed consent to have an abortion.

            You can exercise paternalism and decide for her, but that breaks autonomy no matter which way it goes.

      • http://feministing.com/members/ashurredly/ ashley

        I agree with Angel H. Maybe this girl doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of continuing with the pregnancy and having a child – but she might not understand the ramifications of having an abortion either. She’s already been abused and had choices forced on her. It’s not “pro-choice” to do it again. If medical professionals make the decision to abort the fetus against her wishes, then in ten years she might count this as another abuse heaped on many others. Or she might wish that she had sought an abortion after all. We don’t know, but at least she will have been allowed to make the choice. Give her all the information possible and then let her decide. It’s the best option in an awful situation.