GOP presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee on Sunday expressed his support for the decision to deny an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim in Paraguay, saying that while what happened was a “terrible tragedy,” it is best not to “compound the tragedy by taking another life.”
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former Arkansas governor argued that the Paraguayan government’s refusal to allow an abortion for the now-11-year-old, who gave birth last week after being raped by her stepfather, prevented a second tragedy.
“I wouldn’t pretend it’s anything other than a terrible tragedy. But let’s not compound the tragedy by taking yet another life,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.
The Paraguayan girl in question, referred to with the pseudonym “Mainumby” in legal documents, was denied an abortion from government officials despite the atrocious circumstances of her pregnancy. Abortions are illegal in the country unless the woman’s life is in danger; in this case, officials claimed that the pregnancy was not life-threatening — even though medical experts say that young adolescents under the age of 15 are at far higher risk for medical complications during childbirth.
Mainumby’s child was delivered via Cesarean section because doctors determined that a vaginal birth would be too dangerous — a fact that seems to contradict the initial claim that her life was not in danger.
“The Paraguayan authorities cannot sit idly by while this young rape-survivor is forced to endure more agony and torment,” the human rights agency said back in April when the case came to light.
Amnesty International’s director for the Americas, Erika Guevara, issued an statement this week saying that the fact the girl survived giving birth “does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities, who decided to gamble with her health, life and integrity despite overwhelming evidence that this pregnancy was extremely risky and despite the fact that she was a rape victim and a child”.
Paraguay’s policy is strikingly similar to what Huckabee and some other Republican presidential candidates say they would support if elected. Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have expressed a desire to ban abortion even in cases when women have been raped, or have been victims of incest — a position that is supported by only a small minority of Americans.
Last month, Huckabee said that if he were elected president, he wouldn’t rule out using federal troops to stop women from accessing abortion in the United States.