Joana Ribeiro Zimmer: Judge prompts outrage after BANNING 11-year-old rape victim from having abortion

The judge reportedly said that if she had granted the girl an abortion, she would not have been 'protecting the daughter,' and would instead have been 'subjecting her to a homicide'


                            Joana Ribeiro Zimmer: Judge prompts outrage after BANNING 11-year-old rape victim from having abortion
Brazilian Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer, banned an 11-year-old victim from getting an abortion (Courtesy: Giselle ItiÉ (@gitie) / Twitter)
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BRAZIL: In a bizarre ruling, a Brazilian judge, Joana Ribeiro Zimmer, banned a minor girl who was raped earlier this year from getting an abortion after she was found pregnant as a result of the rape. The decision from the Brazilian court prompted widespread outrage and put the judge under investigation by the country's Court of Justice.

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The unnamed 11-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in Brazil’s Santa Catarina state last month after her mother discovered that the child was pregnant, the Intercept reported. There are no other details regarding the rape, other than it reportedly took place in the family home. The girl, accompanied by her mother, was seen by Dr Polydoro Ernani de Sao Thiago, who is affiliated with the University of Santa Catarina.

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The doctor allegedly refused to perform an abortion after determining that she was more than 22 weeks pregnant, with the hospital's in-house rules stating that they could only perform an abortion on someone up to 20 weeks and that they needed a court order. The Penal Code allows abortion in case of sexual violence, without imposing any limitation on weeks of pregnancy and without requiring judicial authorization. However, doctors still refused to perform the abortion.

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The case was referred to the judge, who reportedly refused to grant the 11-year-old rape victim permission to have the abortion. She reportedly said that if she had granted the girl an abortion, she would not have been "protecting the daughter," and would instead have been "subjecting her to a homicide." On the date of publication of this report, the girl is already in her 29th week of pregnancy. Pregnancy takes an average of 40 weeks.

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Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer ruled an 11-year-old girl was not allowed to get an abortion. (Video screenshot/Programa SC no Ar)

Ribeiro stated, in a June 1 issuing order, that going to the shelter was initially ordered to protect the child from the aggressor, but now there was another reason. “The fact is that, from now on, the risk is that the mother will carry out some procedure to operate on the death of the baby”. Prosecutors later said they’d requested the girl be put into a shelter to remove her from further abuse. The person who raped the girl wasn’t identified in the report.

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During the hearing, the judge also suggested giving the infant for adoption, telling the girl there were “30,000 couples who wanted the baby.” She also asked if the girl wanted to “choose the baby’s name” and if the man who raped her would agree with putting the child up for adoption. The Court of Justice of Santa Catarina has since said that its Internal Affairs Office is now looking into Judge Ribeiro Zimmer for allegedly stopping the 11-year-old from having a legal abortion. The court said in a statement that they had "initiated a request for measures in the administrative sphere for the proper investigation of the facts."

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The IPAS organization, which campaigns for abortion and contraception worldwide, says: "Because Brazilian law only permits abortion in cases of rape, fetal anencephaly, or risk to life, in 2012 the country's Ministry of Health reported only 1,626 legal abortions in a nation with 203 million people."

"However, an estimated one million Brazilian women have abortions every year. Many of those women, particularly those without the financial or social resources to see a well-trained, willing provider, run a huge legal risk when they decide to end an unwanted pregnancy." "The physical consequences can also be devastating."

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