An 11-year-old victim of sexual assault asked authorities for an abortion, but instead was forced to have a C-section this week.
A forced caesarean section, carried out on an 11-year-old sexual assault victim, has sparked a furious debate in Argentina over a woman's right to have an abortion.
The 11-year-old girl fell pregnant after she was allegedly raped by her grandmother's husband, in the northern province of Tucuman.
Instead of receiving an abortion, as she and her mother had requested, she was forced to undergo a caesarean section at the Eva Peron Hospital, where the five-month-old foetus is now fighting for life.
The incident has sparked furious debate in Argentina, with protesters lining up outside the Eva Peron Hospital to condemn the actions of the medical staff.
The unidentified girl and her mother lodged an application with authorities to request an abortion last month.
"I want you to take out of my tummy what the old man put there," she wrote in her application.
But doctors refused to perform the procedure, on the grounds of conscientious objection, stalling the process for seven weeks, while the girl's baby continued to grow.
Abortion is illegal in Argentina and authorities often drag out applications until it is too late for women to undergo the procedure.
According to CNN, a judge this week declared the girl was eligible to undergo an abortion, but local health officials made the executive decision to ignore her explicit request.
The physician responsible for the girl's treatment, Jose Gijena, said they believed an abortion "would subject her to a new torture", according to CNN en Español.
As a result, doctors performed a caesarean section on the 11-year-old.
The family's lawyer, Cecilia De Bono, said the young girl's "wishes should have been taken into account".
Argentina's current legislation only allows abortions to take place in cases of rape, or when the mother's life is in danger.
Ms De Bono said her client's extreme trauma and young age qualified her for an abortion.
Eva Peron Hospital gynaecologist Cecilia Ousset also determined the girl's life was in danger, as her body was no where near developed enough to carry life.
"It wasn't possible (to give birth). Her body wasn't sufficiently developed for a 23-week pregnancy, and even if it had been, she wasn't psychologically ready, given the many abuses she'd suffered," she said.
Despite this, the health department found a doctor who would conduct a C-section on the little girl at 23 weeks, CNN reported.
Her foetus was removed alive, but there are concerns it will not survive.
Tucuman's health minister Rossana Chahla told local media the abortion had only been requested on Monday last week, not weeks prior as the girl's family claimed.
"I want to tell you and inform you that the health care system never obstructed, nor delayed the abortion," Ms Chahla told reporters.
Amnesty International has since tweeted about the incident, condemning the Argentine health department over a lack of action to end the girl's pregnancy.
"The unwarranted delay to a legal abortion violated the girl's right to health, her autonomy, privacy and intimacy, revictimising her," the group tweeted.
The Tucuman local government has since justified its actions, claiming to have put in place "the procedures necessary to save both lives."
Abortion in Argentina is a social issue that has divided the nation, with the government under head pressure from the Catholic Church to ban it altogether.
Abortion rights activists have spent days outside court and the Eva Peron Hospital, fighting for improvements to the current abortion legislation, which makes it too difficult for women to obtain a pregnancy termination.
Executive director of ANDHES Fernanda Marchese, told CNN the delay in the 11-year-old's abortion approval violated her human rights.
"We should have never gotten here," Marchese said. "The law is clear in that sense."
The girl's case has sparked outrage among human rights groups and abortion rights activists in Argentina.