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Paulina: Five Years Later

In 1999, 13-year-old Paulina Ramírez became pregnant after she was raped by an intruder in her home in Mexicali, Mexico. Soon after discovering that she was pregnant, Paulina sought an abortion. According to state legislation, rape is one of the permissible exceptions to the criminal law on abortion. Public officials, however, deceived Paulina into withdrawing her request, thus forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term. Paulina’s case is emblematic of the limitations of public policies guaranteeing access to abortion for rape victims in Mexico.

In 2000, the Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) [Information Group on Reproductive Choice] published the first part of this story, Paulina: In the Name of the Law, followed in 2004 by Paulina: Five Years Later, with assistance from the Center for Reproductive Rights. This new report includes information about the significant events that have occurred in Paulina’s life and in her legal case during the five years since she gave birth.

The Center has been actively involved in the Paulina case. In 2002, the Center and two Mexican human rights groups filed a petition on Paulina’s behalf with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging violations of her legally guaranteed rights under Mexican law, as well as her rights to physical and psychological integrity and health, among other rights. In 2006, the Center and its partners reached a landmark settlement with the Mexican government, in which the government agreed to, among other things, pay reparations to Paulina, provide her and her son significant compensation for health care and education, and issue a decree regulating guidelines for access to abortion for rape victims.