In an infuriating combination of events, the Vatican rang in Women’s History Month by once again paying lip service to women’s equality while showing its true colors. The day before Pope Benedict XVI called for increased commitment to women’s dignity, a Vatican official announced his support for the excommunications of the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion after being raped by her stepfather.
In Brazil, abortion is illegal except in cases of rape or when a woman’s life is in danger, and both stipulations were fulfilled in this heartbreaking case. The doctors determined that the girl, who weighed only eighty pounds, would not survive this pregnancy. The girl’s 23-year-old stepfather admitted to sexually abusing her for several years, and he is also suspected of abusing her physically disabled 14-year-old sister. He has since been arrested and placed in protective custody.