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Girl’s rape ignites Chilean abortion tiff

SANTIAGO, Chile — The case of a pregnant 11-year old Chilean girl who was raped by her mother’s partner has set off a national debate about abortion in one of the most socially conservative countries in Latin America.

State TV reported that the girl is 14 weeks pregnant. Police arrested her mother’s partner, who confessed to abusing the fifth-grader.

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Doctors say her life and that of the fetus are at high risk. But ending the pregnancy is not an option.

Chile allowed abortions for medical reasons until they were outlawed in 1973 by General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The current government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera has opposed any loosening of the prohibition.

Many Chileans expressed outrage on social media Friday. Some have started an online campaign to demand legalization of abortion in cases of rape or health risks for the mother.

Chile’s Senate rejected three bills last year that would have eased the absolute ban on abortions.

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