Women’s Link Worldwide joins health and human rights groups in Latin America and worldwide demanding that doctors in El Salvador immediately perform an abortion to save the life of Beatriz, a 22-year old woman and mother of an infant. Beatriz is pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (a fetus without a brain) that has no chance of survival after birth. She has lupus, aggravated by lupus nephritis (a kidney malfunction), which makes it very dangerous for her to be pregnant. Beatriz is now at high risk of dying as a result of her current pregnancy and needs an abortion to save her life. Her condition is rapidly deteriorating. But because El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world that does not allow for abortion under any circumstance, Beatriz is being denied life-saving medical care.
Beatriz is from a poor rural area of El Salvador and lives in poverty. Just over a year ago she delivered her first child after a high-risk pregnancy during which she suffered from anemia and preeclampsia. She had a cesarean section and her son was born prematurely and remained in intensive care for 38 days.
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The Ministry of Health, the National Commission of Bioethics, representatives of United Nations, women’s rights and human rights organizations support the authorization of the therapeutic abortion for Beatriz. Nonetheless, the Prosecutor’s Office has warned that if an abortion is performed they will apply the existing legislation in El Salvador that penalizes all abortions with prison time (up to 50 years for the woman and up to 12 years for the doctors) and for this reason the medical personnel at the Hospital do not dare perform the abortion.
Currently, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IAHCR) have pending before them urgent petitions seeking Beatriz’s right to get an abortion to save her life. Women’s rights advocates are urging the Court and the IACHR to take swift action, and in turn, for the government of El Salvador to do the same.
Beatriz wants to live. She is young woman with her whole life in front of her, which includes raising her child alongside her husband. In the face of Beatriz’s medical situation, the Maternity Hospital (“Hospital de Maternidad”) has determined that “it is of vital importance that she gets the medical procedure she needs because otherwise there is a high probability of maternal mortality.”
The government must act to clear the way for this procedure immediately.
Groups in El Salvador and Latin America appeal to the international community to intervene and not allow another woman to die due to the lack of recognition of the most basic human rights and they demand that the authorities in El Salvador guarantee Beatriz’s right to life.
For Women’s Link, it is fundamental that therapeutic abortions be allowed as a minimum to protect the human rights of girls and women around the world, so that women and girls do not die or risk their life or health because they are denied an abortion. “If Beatriz were a woman with means, this would not be happening. The prohibition on abortion makes poor women have to choose between dying and turning into “criminals” and that is completely contrary to justice and human rights,” says Monica Roa, Programs Director for Women’s Link.