Indonesia rape case sparks calls to change abortion law

Activists voice outrage at jailing of teen who sought termination after being impregnated by brother
Indonesia rape case sparks calls to change abortion law

An Indonesian mother holds her child as she shouts slogans along with others during an anti-abortion demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in this file photo. (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP)

An Indonesian priest has denounced calls by activists to allow abortions for rape victims beyond the current legal time limit, following the jailing of a teenager who had a termination eight months into her pregnancy after being raped by her brother.

Indonesian law considers abortion a crime, except in rape cases where it allows terminations within six weeks or 40 days since conception.

The activists want lawmakers to remove the time limit, arguing many victims only discover they are pregnant after that period has elapsed.

However, Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, a moral theology professor at the Jakarta-based Driyarkara School of Philosophy, said the fetus must be protected no matter what the circumstances.

"Killing a fetus must not be allowed, plain and simple. He or she is the most helpless of victims," Father Aman told ucanews.com.

An abortion means both the mother and the fetus fall victim. Women who have abortions will likely suffer psychologically, he said.

"They are haunted by guilt as a woman bears a moral responsibility to preserve life," he said.

He criticized the call from activists, saying the case they were using to promote extending the time limit on abortion was extreme in itself, since the girl involved in the disputed case was eight months pregnant.

The case involved a 15-year-old girl from, Jambi province, in Sumatra, who was jailed for six months in July.

Her 17-year-old brother raped her after watching a porn video. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The girl's mother — who is still on trial — allegedly helped facilitate the abortion out of shame, after discovering she had been raped and impregnated by her own brother.

Activists claimed the girl was left traumatized during her pregnancy.

"Such victims must be allowed to recover from their trauma instead of punishing them," said Mirna Novita Amir, a women's rights lawyer.

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