More than 45,000 people in the United States and internationally have joined UN human rights bodies, and health and human rights groups in Latin America and worldwide in demanding that Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador, immediately authorize doctors in the country to perform an abortion to save the life of Beatriz, a 22-year old woman and mother of a toddler.
Both the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights have called on the government of El Salvador to save Beatriz’s life. The UN experts on the right to health; torture; and violence and discrimination against women, Anand Grover, Juan E. Méndez, Rashida Manjoo and Kamala Chandrakirana, have called on the government to act without further delay, stating: “We urge the Government of El Salvador to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and full enjoyment of the right to life, and to the highest attainable standard of health for Beatriz, in accordance with international human rights law.” The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued protection measures this Monday calling on the government to provide Beatriz with the necessary medical treatment within 72 hours, given the urgency of her case – yet that deadline passed on Thursday, May 2nd, and the government has still not taken action.
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Beatriz has lupus, aggravated by lupus nephritis (a kidney malfunction,) and her kidney function is being steadily destroyed. She also is pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (a fetus without a brain) that has no chance of survival after birth. Her pregnancy is literally killing her.
This diagnosis of Beatriz’s condition was issued by the authorities of the Specialized National Maternity Hospital in San Salvador in March, and reiterated by the National Bioethics Commission of El Salvador (CNBES) through a statement last Tuesday. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that her fetus is anencephalic and with no extra-uterine viability.
“This situation of uncertainty has increased the suffering of Beatriz as she is aware of the health conditions of the foetus and the risk of death she faces, and is forced to go through a cruel, inhumane and degrading situation,” the independent experts stressed.
The government of El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world that does not allow for abortion under any circumstance; as a result, 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.
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 as homicides, and for this reason the medical personnel at the Hospital do not dare perform the abortion.
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.”
Funes must now act to clear the way for this procedure immediately.
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.