RIO DE JANEIRO – A Roman Catholic archbishop says the abortion of twins carried by a 9-year-old girl who allegedly was raped by her stepfather means excommunication for the girl's mother and her doctors.
Despite the nature of the case, the church had to hold its line against abortion, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said in an interview aired Thursday by Globo television.
"The law of God is higher than any human laws," he said. "When a human law — that is, a law enacted by human legislators — is against the law of God, that law has no value. The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion have incurred excommunication."
Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao rebuked the archbishop, saying, "I'm shocked by two facts: by what happened to the girl and by the position of the archbishop, who in saying he defends life puts another at risk."
Abortion is generally illegal in Brazil, which is home to more Catholics than any other nation. But the procedure is allowed when the mother's life is in danger, when the fetus has no chance of survival or in rape cases where the woman has not passed her 20th week of pregnancy.
Doctors said the girl was 15 weeks pregnant when the abortion was performed Wednesday in the northeastern city of Recife, where Sobrinho is archbishop. Health officials said the life of the girl — who weighs 80 pounds — was in danger.
The pregnancy was discovered last week when the girl fell ill and her mother took her to a clinic. The child then told officials she had been abused by her stepfather, who is in police custody.
A similar case in southern Brazil surfaced Thursday. Authorities in Rio Grande do Sul state told the O Globo newspaper that an 11-year-old girl allegedly raped by her stepfather is seven months pregnant.
The 51-year-old stepfather has been in jail since January while the girl is in a hospital for high risk pregnancies and apparently will not have an abortion.