An inter-ministerial panel in Romania ruled Friday that an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant after allegedly being raped by her uncle can have an abortion.
"The committee has decided that a voluntary termination of the pregnancy can be carried out," said health ministry official and panel member Vlad Iliescu.
An abortion was allowed under Romanian law because the girl was a victim of sexual abuse, Iliescu said, adding that she faced "major risks to her mental health" if the pregnancy continued.
The committee also decided that no changes in current relevent legislation were needed, simply "clarifications with regard to the exceptional circumstances" allowing abortions to go ahead.
Under Romanian law, abortions are allowed up until the 14th week of the pregnancy if the mother's life is endangered or if the foetus suffers from malformation.
The girl's parents discovered the pregnancy when she underwent a medical check-up after she complained of stomach pains. By then, she was already 17 weeks pregnant.
Two medical panels have so far examined the girl, who is now 21 weeks pregnant -- the first finding in favour of an abortion, the second against.
The second panel found that "having examined the girl ... the pregnancy is proceeding naturally and termination should therefore not be imposed".
"The fact that the pregnancy stemmed from rape was not taken into account by the panel, for two reasons: one, because rape has not been proven; and two, because the penal code does not allow for any exceptions," said Vica Todosiciuc, head of the Cuza Voda maternity section in the northeastern city of Iasi, last week.
"This was a very difficult decision for the doctors to make. They searched for a medical reason which would allow them to authorise a termination, but none was found," Todosiciuc said.
The inter-ministerial panel was therefore asked to make a final ruling on the case.
The girl's family said this week they wanted to travel to Britain for an abortion, and a Romanian in Britain had offered to finance the costs.