Paraguay, the focus of several protests was on better protecting children from abuse.
About 600 girls age 14 or under become pregnant each year in this country of 6.8 million people, according to local health statistics. Many people have called for stiffer penalties for abusers and the funding of education programs to help parents and authorities better spot signs of abuse.
Norma Benitez, spokeswoman for the Latin American Women’s Commission, said her group would now push the government to provide a safe environment for the girl that includes both her mother and grandmother.
“The Paraguayan state must fulfil its role of protecting children by providing a home and a dignified life” for this family, she said.
The Roman Catholic Church has wide influence in the country and was at the forefront of calls not to allow an abortion. Mariano Mercado, spokesman for the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference, reaffirmed the church’s position Thursday but didn’t talk about the girl’s case.
“Human life is sacred and should be respected and protected from the moment of conception until death,” he said.
Carlos Gilizzola, a physician who holds a seat in the Senate, said he that for four years he has been pushing legislation to increase sex education funding.
“The majority of Christian churches, led by the Catholic Church, campaigned in 2012 to make sure the bill wasn’t even taken up in committee,” he said.
In July, Pope Francis spent three days in Paraguay. He met with officials, toured a slum outside Asuncion and celebrated two Masses. While activists had hoped to bring up the case of the pregnant girl, Francis did not speak about it or focus on abortion in any of his speeches.