Beatriz, a 22-year-old woman in El Salvador with severe health problems, was refused a lifesaving abortion of a fetus with severe birth defects by the Supreme Court of El Salvador yesterday. The country has a strict ban on all abortions, regardless of any threat to the health or life of the mother. Beatriz, who has a malfunctioning kidney, lupus and other health-related issues, appealed to the court to terminate her pregnancy. The fetus, in its 26th week, has a severe birth defect in which parts of its brain are missing. It is not expected to live more than a few hours after birth.
As quoted in The New York Times, one of Beatriz’ lawyers said, “The court placed the life of the anencephalic baby over Beatriz’s life. Justice here does not respect the rights of women.”
Doctors say Beatriz needs an abortion — which she asked for many months ago — to save her life, yet none will perform the lifesaving abortion out of fear of breaking the law. Hence Beatriz, who is already the mother of a 14-month-old son, had to appeal to the country’s judicial body. The court denied her request for an abortion, stating “The rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus. Additionally, it said Beatriz’s death from her health problems combined with pregnancy was not “imminent,” but rather “eventual.” (So much better!)
The court did rule that if Beatriz’s life is in “imminent” danger, doctors could “proceed with interventions,” meaning they could induce a premature labor. Doing so would mean that this young woman would need to suffer more through a pregnancy that she has long asked, and been denied, the right to end.
This entire situation is utterly disgusting: the government and the court has straight-up said that a woman’s life is worse less than that of the fetus in her belly, even when she already has a child who will be motherless if she dies. That the court ruled, in effect, that Beatriz must suffer more before she is able to terminate a pregnancy she does not want shows how little regard they truly have of the life of anyone. The cruelty here is manifold.
For Frisky readers who speak Spanish, you can watch a video of Beatriz discussing her situation here on Vimeo:
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[Photo of gravestone via Shutterstock]