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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 02:08 GMT
Vatican petitioned over rape girl
Child protester
The case has provoked strong feelings in Nicaragua and abroad
More than 25,000 people in Spain have asked the Roman Catholic Church to excommunicate them.

Their move is in support of a Nicaraguan couple who were thrown out of the Church for allowing their young daughter to have an abortion after she was raped.

The petition, organised by a number of women's groups in Spain, was handed to the Vatican's ambassador in Madrid, Manuel Monteiro de Castro.

The nine-year-old girl's parents said she became pregnant after she was raped in Costa Rica where they were working on a coffee plantation.

The case caused huge controversy in Nicaragua where abortion is illegal except in exceptional circumstances, such as when the mother's life is in danger.

The girl's parents asked for special permission to have the pregnancy terminated.

She was four months pregnant at the time and medical experts warned she could die whether she had the abortion or not.

The Nicaraguan authorities ruled that the parents would not face criminal charges.


But the Catholic Church in Nicaragua condemned the abortion, excommunicating the couple and the doctors who carried out the procedure.

The petition's organisers from the Red Feminista (Feminist Network) said their campaign was designed to show solidarity with the girl, known as Rosa, and her family, and would continue.

They said the ambassador, Manuel Monteiro de Castro, had promised to pass their petition on to the Vatican.

The girl is reportedly in good health after undergoing the procedure last month.

Costa Rican authorities have arrested a man in connection with the rape allegations.

Abortion ruling splits Nicaragua
04 Mar 03 |  Americas
Nicaragua child rape suspect held
19 Feb 03 |  Americas
Country profile: Nicaragua
04 Nov 02 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Nicaragua
04 Jan 03 |  Americas

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