El Salvador's "Beatriz" in recovery after cesarean

The procedure was performed on Monday, ending Beatriz's dangerous pregnancy and long legal battle to save her life

Published June 4, 2013 1:06PM (EDT)


Beatriz, a critically ill Salvadorian woman who was denied a therapeutic abortion by the country's Supreme Court last week, underwent a cesarean on Monday and is currently recovering and in stable condition; her anencephalic fetus, lacking parts of its brain and skull, did not survive.

"She's in good hands, being looked after well," Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodríguez told Reuters on Monday. "I expect things to go well over the next few hours."

After debating Beatriz's petition for a therapeutic abortion -- a request supported by her doctors, the Salvadoran health ministry and international human rights groups -- for seven weeks, the court ruled against the procedure, but determined that doctors "could proceed with interventions" if Beatriz's health continued to deteriorate due to her kidney failure and lupus.

Soon after the ruling, the health ministry ordered Beatriz's doctors to perform a cesarean, a legal compromise allowing the state to uphold its restriction on all abortion while enabling doctors to terminate Beatriz's nonviable pregnancy and, ultimately, save her life.

“At this point, the interruption of the pregnancy is no longer an abortion. It is an induced birth,” Rodríguez, said of the cesarean on Thursday.

Reproductive justice and women's rights groups in El Salvador expressed relief that Beatriz's life had been saved, but remained critical of the court ruling and the country's long-standing ban on abortion under all circumstances.

Morena Herrera, a spokeswoman for the abortion rights group Colectivo Feminista, told Reuters that she believed the court could have spared Beatriz unnecessary pain and suffering -- Beatriz had been hospitalized for weeks due to pregnancy-related health complications, during which she was separated from her 14-month-old son -- but remained grateful the health ministry had intervened to save her life.

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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