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Neonatologist Says Brazilian Nine-Year-Old Could Have Safely Brought Child to Term

March 17, 2009 ( - The horrific case of a nine-year-old Brazilian girl who was repeatedly raped by her step-father, and who subsequently became pregnant with twins has made headlines around the world in recent days. The case created widespread controversy after the girl had an abortion, an act that was condemned by the Catholic Church in the country due to the fact that doctors had originally refused to perform an abortion, stating that the girl's life was not in danger.

The doctors who later performed the abortion, however, claimed that the girl's life was indeed in danger, a claim that has been widely repeated in the mainstream media.

But in a recent interview with, Dr. Paul Byrne, a neonatologist and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Toledo, Ohio, strongly refuted the assumption that the Brazilian girl's life was threatened by the pregnancy, simply because of her age.

Byrne told LSN that it is certainly medically possible for a young girl safely to carry a pregnancy of twins to term. He acknowledged that the circumstances are unusual, but said that the problem of giving birth with an undeveloped pelvic structure could be safely avoided by a caesarean section.

Dr. Byrne cited the case of Lina Medina, a Peruvian girl from the Andean village of Ticrapo who made medical history when she gave birth to a boy by caesarean section in May 1939 at the age of five years, seven months and 21 days.

But he emphasized that no matter what the situation in the case, "abortion is not the solution." The girl, he said, "was sexually abused" and needed treatment. "Someone should have tried to help this girl."

"The mother and both babies should have had their life protected, preserved and defended. There is no reason to kill these babies," he said.

Dr. Byrne noted also that the girl now faces the usual long-term health risks associated with abortion, including possible future pre-term births and miscarriage due to an "incompetent cervix," a cervix that is too weak to stay closed during a pregnancy.

Much research has shown other serious long-term health complications of abortion, including increased risk of breast, cervical, ovarian and liver cancers. Other risks associated with abortion include such serious mental health issues as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

Dr. Byrne decried the emphasis in the press and among Catholic bishops on the excommunications that were formally announced against the girl's mother and the doctors who performed the abortion by the Archbishop of Recife. "The focus is on excommunication when the focus ought to be on life of these three persons created in the image and likeness of God," said Byrne.

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