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. In the Mexican state of Baja California, where Mexicali is located, abortion is permissible when pregnancy results from rape. The Attorney General’s Office authorized the abortion, but public officials deceived Paulina into withdrawing her request through misinformation. Paulina was shown violent videos of abortion procedures in order to dissuade her from terminating her pregnancy. Moreover, the doctor exaggerated the risk of abortion to Paulina’s mother, stating that the abortion could result in “sterility, perforation of the uterus, massive hemorrhage, Asherman’s syndrome, and death.” The biased information succeeded in scaring Paulina’s mother, and as a result, the public officials convinced Paulina to withdraw her request, thus forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term. A petition was filed on behalf of Paulina with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging violations under Articles 1 (obligation to respect rights), 5 (right to humane treatment), 7 (right to personal liberty), 8 (right to fair trial), 11 (right to privacy), 12 (freedom of conscience and religion), 19 (rights of the child), and 25 (right to judicial protection) of the American Convention.
A settlement was reached 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 educational expenses, offer a public acknowledgement of responsibility, and issue a decree regulating guidelines for access to abortion for rape victims.