L.C. was 13 years of age when she became pregnant as a result of being repeatedly raped by a 34-year-old man. After learning that she was pregnant, L.C. became depressed and attempted suicide by jumping from a building. She survived the fall and was eventually taken to a public hospital, where it was determined that she was at risk of permanent disability and required emergency spinal surgery. Despite the serious risk of permanent disability to L.C., her doctors refused to provide the surgery because she was pregnant. L.C. requested a termination of pregnancy in accordance with Article 119 of Peru’s Penal Code, which permits abortion when it is necessary to “save the life of the mother or to avoid serious and permanent harm to her health.” Forty-two days passed between when LC requested an abortion and when she received a denial from the hospital’s medical board. LC tried to appeal this decision, but three weeks later was informed that it was not subject to appeal.  During this time, LC spontaneously miscarried, and nearly three months after her initial injury was able to receive spinal surgery. She remains paralyzed from the neck down with only partial movement in her hands.

The decision affirmed governments’ obligation to ensure that where abortion is legal, an appropriate legal framework is in place in order to enable women to access abortion services. Further, this was the first decision from a UN treaty monitoring body that has called on a state to explicitly consider reforming its abortion law, as the CEDAW Committee calls on Peru to make abortion legal in cases of rape and sexual assault. The decision further recognizes the important of mental health in implementation of Article 12 (the right to health).