El Salvador woman pleads with court to grant life-saving abortion

A critically ill woman testified before the Supreme Court Wednesday, asking the justices for an urgent abortion

Published May 15, 2013 6:17PM (EDT)

    (Agrupación Ciudadana Por la Despenalización Del Aborto)
(Agrupación Ciudadana Por la Despenalización Del Aborto)

A critically ill and pregnant 22-year-old woman in El Salvador testified before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking the justices to grant her a life-saving abortion.

As Salon has previously reported, the woman, identified only as Beatriz, is 23 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic, non-viable fetus. Beatriz's doctors have testified that complications related to her lupus, hypertension and kidney disease could kill her if the pregnancy is not terminated; but because abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador, Beatriz, and her doctors, could go to prison if she receives the life-saving medical procedure.

In a statement last month, Beatriz pleaded with El Salvador's president Mauricio Funes Cartagena to intervene in the case, saying: "This baby inside me cannot survive. I am ill. I want to live.” On Wednesday, she told the court the same.

In addition to Beatriz's personal appeals, reproductive rights groups like Agrupación Ciudadana Por la Despenalización Del Aborto, the country’s Minister of Health Maria Isabel Rodriguez and international human rights organizations like Amnesty International have petitioned the court to act.

Last month, Rodriguez wrote a letter asking the court to intervene before Beatriz’s kidney function further deteriorates, calling Beatriz's condition a serious maternal illness and asking the court to approve her “urgent medical abortion.”


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Abortion Abortion Care El Salvador Reproductive Rights Women's Rights