On Religion

Costa Rica

Costa Rica didn't seem exceptionally religious on the surface, but I learned the Catholic religion is a big part of the culture. This was made obvious by reading "La Nacion", Costa Rica's main newspaper. While doing this I followed the story of Rosa (not her real name), the daughter of Nicaraguan migrant workers who was raped and impregnated shortly before her ninth birthday near the end of 2002. Pregnancy at this age is very unusual but not impossible. It is also very dangerous for the child. Some doctors assured Rosa's parents that her young body could not safely carry the fetus to term, while others tried to convince the parents that an abortion would be as risky as continuing the pregnancy. Costa Rica's laws, which are heavily influenced by the countries Catholicism, forbid abortions unless the woman is in immediate danger. In the early stages of the pregnancy Rosa was in no danger, but her parents did not want to wait until the fetus grew to the point of injuring or killing her. They crossed the border into Nicaragua because they could not find a doctor to perform an abortion in Costa Rica.  Abortion laws are also very restrictive in Nicaragua. No government hospital would perform the abortion. but a woman's group provided the money for an abortion at a private hospital. The cardinal of Managua declared that Rosa's parents and anyone involved in the abortion had excommunicated themselves from the Catholic Church, and Nicaragua's Attorney General investigated possible charges against those involved. A Spain based internet campaign resulted in 28,000 Catholics demanding to be excommunicated by the church in protest, and the Catholic authorities in Managua backed down on the excommunication and the Attorney General from filing charges. After the abortion there were significant anti-abortion protests in Costa Rica.

My primary sources of information for the Rosa story were the newspapers La Nacion and The Tico Times, both published in San Jose, Costa Rica, the first in Spanish and the second in English. I don't know if La Nacion has a web site with archive stories, The Tico Times is at www.ticotimes.net. If you go to any decent internet news search engine and do a search on the words "rosa", "abortion", "costa rica", and "nicaragua" and look for stories published early in 2003 you should be able to verify this story. Two that I found were an article published February 21, 2003 at the BBC news site titled "Raped Nicaraguan girl aborts baby" and another published in the August issue of Global Village News and Resources (www.gvnr.com) titled "Vatican Does U-Turn After 26,00 Request Excommunication". If you doubt my credibility please check the references.

I suppose if you believe that from the moment a human egg is fertilized it becomes a human being then abortion is always wrong, with the possible exception of when it is absolutely necessary to save the life of the mother. However if you believe that a fetus in its early stages, when it has not developed a functioning brain or anything resembling human consciousness, does not qualify as a human being, then forcing a nine year old girl to try have a baby is a horrible form of child abuse.

Here's a similar story from my home state of Florida. In spring of 2005 a 13 year old girl who was a ward of the state became pregnant after running away from her foster home. After returning to the state's child services bureaucracy and discussing her condition with medical providers, she decided to end the pregnancy. The state, acting as her legal guardian, refused to allow the abortion. The ACLU took the issue to court and the judge, after requiring a week of psychological evaluation of the child, ruled that she could have the abortion. The state decided not to appeal the ruling and the abortion was obtained at a private clinic that refused to be named to avoid protests. So things are not as bad in Florida as in Costa Rica, or as good if you are fervently anti-abortion. But things aren't significantly different; both governments tried to require a child to have a child. Another internet news search can verify this, one story I found was from MSNBC news (www.msnbc.msn.com) dated May 3, 2005 titled "Florida judge approves abortion for 13-year-old".

By the way, Florida's anti-abortion governor is Jeb Bush. He may be President some day. He's Catholic, so he's supposed to oppose abortion, but for some reason he has no problem authorizing executions, which the Catholic Church also opposes. The inconsistency is not surprising, he has a history of making decisions without a lot of thought or relevant information. When he was campaigning for re-election one of his staffers, Roy Cales, fixed a computer problem on Jeb's laptop, so Jeb promoted him to head the state technology office. Apparently Mr. Cales only qualifications for running this $600 million office is that he had once run a small software business (not very well), he was working on Jeb Bush's campaign, and he solved a problem with Jeb's laptop. Unfortunately the staffer had a bit of a history, a past fraud charge which was dropped after he repaid the money, and a charge of grand theft for which he was arrested while he was chief of the Technology Office. The charge was later dropped, but the case revealed that Mr. Cales had a problematic financial background and he resigned his position. On-line verification can be found in the St Petersburg Times (www.stpetersburgtimes.com) news story dated Aug 21, 2001 titled "State's technology chief is arrested" and a October 30 story from the same source, "Rulings undermine case against ex-tech chief". This is just one example of Governor Bush acting without thinking things through. Apparently it runs in the family.

This page is somewhat off-topic from the rest of the website, so if you want to post comments on this particular subject, please use the following:

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