Bolivia    JUDGE MAY BE EXCOMMUNICATED FOR ORDERING ABORTION
A judge who ordered doctors to perform an abortion for a 12-year-old girl after she was raped by her stepfather may be excommunicated by his local bishop, according to the Bolivian bishops' conference on Thursday.
   Bishop Jesus Juarez Parraga, secretary of the bishop's conference, said he has not yet decided whether to excommunicate Judge Juan Luis Ledezma, but said the order is a serious sin. "Abortion is a crime that deserves excommunication," he said. The bishops' conference said it is also considering legal action against the judge. Under local law, the judge could face prison if he is found guilty. Although abortion is illegal in Bolivia, there is a wide trade in underground abortions and the unidentified abortionist could also face charges if found.
   Doctors aborted the unborn child last Friday in La Paz after other doctors in Cochabamba, the city where the girl lived, refused to obey the judge's order, saying the girl could suffer physical and mental harm and further refused to perform the abortion because it would mean the death of a conceived human being.
   Jose Rivera, a spokesman for the diocese of La Paz, said, Ledezma should be considered already excommunicated "in the event that he does not repent," even if no formal excommunication order is presented.
   
CWN
20/3/00

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