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Joana Ribeiro Zimmer probed for 11-year-old abortion block

If an 11-year-old is not old enough to give consent, how can she be old enough to consent to an abortion? This judge is being investigated for protecting this child from people who pressured her into a decision she does not understand.

Site Nestor editor

Brazil’s judicial watchdog has launched an investigation into Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer who blocked an 11-year-old rape victim from having an abortion.

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Babies Conceived in Rape Shouldn’t be Aborted

Judicial and human rights groups had called on the country’s National Council of Justice to investigate Santa Catarina state Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer after her decision was reported last week by The Intercept Brasil.

Video of a May 9 hearing showed Zimmer asking the child whether she understood how pregnancies happen. The judge referred to the rapist as “the father of the baby” and asked the girl to “hold on a little more” to save it.

The girl repeatedly said she did not want to give birth, the video showed.

A lawyer representing the girl told The Associated Press news agency she was 10 years old when she was raped, but turned 11 before she realised she was pregnant. That was in the 22nd week of pregnancy.

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The child’s mother took her to a hospital in the city of Florianopolis to get an abortion, but doctors said they could perform the procedure only up to the 20th week of pregnancy, lawyer Daniela Felix said.

The family took the case to court within days, where Zimmer not only refused to allow the abortion but isolated the girl from her family in a state shelter, she said.

In a statement, Zimmer said that she “will not speak about parts of the hearing, which were illegally leaked”. She also said she will remain silent about the case “to assure the due and full protection to the child”.

While the country’s health ministry recommends abortions be only up to the 20th to 22nd week, Felix and other lawyers have argued that the law itself makes no mention of a limit on when an abortion can be performed. Abortions in the country are only legal in cases of rape or when a woman’s life is in danger, with both women and doctors facing imprisonment for having or performing the procedure in other cases.

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In 2020, the health ministry created new rules that require doctors to report to police anyone who seeks an abortion after being raped, regardless of the survivor’s wishes. The regulations also require medical workers to show rape survivors an ultrasound of the fetus before a legal abortion.

Brazil judge probed for banning abortion for child rape victim  Al Jazeera English

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