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El Salvador Court Denies Seriously Ill Woman Potentially Life-Saving Abortion

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

The fetus stands practically no chance of survival.

El Salvador’s Supreme Court has denied a seriously ill woman a potentially life-saving abortion, even though her fetus stands practically no chance of survival.

Doctors say the 22-year-old woman, who uses the name “Beatriz” to protect her privacy, could face severe medical problems if she does not receive an immediate abortion. Beatriz has lupus, and her continued pregnancy could lead to hemorrhaging, kidney failure and even maternal death.

Medical tests confirmed that the fetus has anencephaly, meaning that it is missing large parts of its skull and brain. In virtually all cases, fetuses with anencephaly do not survive for more than a few hours or days after delivery.

El Salvador, a predominently Catholic nation, has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world. It is one of five countries with absolute abortion bans, even in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a pregnant woman is in jeopardy.

In a 4-1 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that it is sticking to the “absolute impediment to authorize the practice of abortion,” adding that “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus. The court noted Beatriz’s lupus, but maintained that the threat to her life “is not actual or imminent, but rather eventual.” The ruling stated that if her life became in immediate danger, than doctors could proceed with action.

Beatriz’s case has become a high-profile battle in El Salvador, pitting international organizations, as well as human rights, feminist and pro-choice groups against the nation’s powerful Catholic lobby. As Feministing’s Katie Halper noted, “Both the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission as well as Amnesty InternationalCare2Human Rights Watch and RH Reality Check called on the president to intervene and the Supreme Court to grant Beatriz an abortion.”

Beatriz’s lawyer called the decision, “misogynistic,” telling theNew York Timesthat,“The court placed the life of the anencephalic baby over Beatriz’s life.” The 22-year-old’s attorney, Víctor Hugo Mata, added that, “Justice here does not respect the rights of women.”

The case represents a …read more


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