A 10-year-old girl in Mexico recently gave birth to a premature baby boy, bringing the country's strict abortion laws into the spotlight.
Abortion laws in heavily-Catholic Mexico are left to be decided by individual states. Some states, such as Puebla, where the 10-year-old girl lives, prohibit the procedure unless the woman can prove the pregnancy is a result of sexual assault.
According to LifesiteNews.com, lawmakers from the state of Puebla approved an anti-abortion amendment in 2009, which says life begins "from the moment of conception to natural death, except in cases foreseen by law."
Sixteen of Mexico's 31 states have similar abortion laws.
The 10-year-old girl suffered from "life-complicating issues and seizures," the New York Daily News reported. She eventually gave birth by Caesarian section. The baby, born 11 weeks premature, is still in the hospital fighting pneumonia.
A doctor at the hospital said the young mother is recuperating "very well" and comes to feed her baby every four hours, reported Mexican news site, Excelsior.
There is an investigation underway to determine who assaulted the young girl.
Approximately 90 percent of the Mexican population identifies as Catholic and the Roman Catholic Church's strict stance against abortion is considered an influence on Mexico's strict pro-life laws.
Vida Humana Internacional (VHI), a pro-life organization that promotes the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in Spanish-speaking countries, including Mexico, supports the strict anti-abortion laws and argues that even in cases of sexual assault or when the pregnancy poses health risks to the mother, even one as young as 10 years old, abortion is an immoral act.
"In the end, the child at any stage of development has all the rights of any other human being and may not be directly and voluntarily killed," Magaly Llaguno, the Executive Director of VHI, told The Christian Post in an email.
She added: "Such an act is, as John Paul II emphasized, 'always gravely immoral.' Increasingly so, the default position of physicians today is to recommend a direct abortion. But such a moral evil is never necessary as the death of a child never brings about the health of a woman."
However, Mexico City's governmental Human Rights Commission said the country's abortion laws "will worsen the serious public health problem of clandestine abortions in unhealthy conditions," Al-Jazeera reported.
In addition, there are severe health risks that mothers under age 16 face. According to Time magazine, they are four times more likely to die during childbirth and are more susceptible to developing anemia, postpartum hemorrhage, depression and other mental disorders.
Due to the difficulties of child labor, minors who give birth also make up 65 percent of the women who develop obstetric fistula - a devastating condition in which a hole develops in the birth canal, causing an uncontrollable leakage of urine and feces into the vagina.
Latin America is home to some of the world's strictest abortion laws. According to the Pew Forum, abortion is illegal except for cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is danger in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances in El Salvador and Nicaragua.