A 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was raped by her stepfather underwent an abortion, which was performed by two doctors. This resulted in the excommunication of the girl's mother and the doctors by the local Catholic archbishop. The girl was not excommunicated.
The child, who was pregnant with twins, weighed only 80 pounds. She might have died if she had been forced to carry the pregnancy to term, according to the doctors.
The Vatican's top bioethics official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said the two doctors do not deserve to be excommunicated because they tried to save the girl's life. The mother was not mentioned.
Fisichella wrote the following in the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano: "There are others who deserve excommunication and our forgiveness," addressing the rape victim, "not those who permitted you to live and who will help you to regain hope and faith."
Fisichella repeated the Catholic teaching that abortion is an "intrinsically wicked act," but that in the case of this child it might have been the lesser of two evils. He recognized this situation was an extremely difficult one for the doctors and for "moral law itself." No apparent mention was made of the agony the mother must have been going through.
In his article, Fisichella accused the Brazilian archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, of having "rushed" to declare the excommunications, when his first task should have been the "pastoral" care of the victim. Fishichella went on to say that Cardoso Sobrinho's action did harm to the "credibility of our teaching, which appears in the eyes of so many as insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking in mercy." The girl's stepfather never faced excommunication.