Protesters rally to support Beatriz in El Salvador

                                                                                                    Credit: Amnesty International

(WOMENSENEWS)– A pregnant 22-year-old woman in El Salvador, identified only as Beatriz, testified Wednesday before the Supreme Court asking the justices to grant her a life-saving abortion, Salon reported May 15.

Beatriz is critically ill and 23 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic, non-viable fetus. Her doctors have testified that complications related to her lupus, hypertension and kidney disease could kill her if the pregnancy is not terminated. The doctors also found that her fetus is missing a large part of its brain and believe it would not survive long after birth.
However, 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. The sentence for undergoing the procedure is up to 50 years in prison for the woman and up to 12 years for the doctor who performs the procedure.
The five-justice panel has begun hearing arguments Wednesday but it is not known when it would issue a ruling, Associated Press reported May 15.
In addition to Beatriz’s personal appeals, reproductive rights groups like Agrupación Ciudadana Por la Despenalización Del Aborto based in El Salvador, the country’s Minister of Health Maria Isabel Rodriguez, the United Nations and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have petitioned the court to act.
Amnesty International launched an online petition which has been shared widely, Al Jazeera reported May 15. On Twitter, many users have joined the human rights organization’s call to grant Beatriz an abortion.

In a statement released 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, Salon reported.
In a letter addressed to Funes on May 14, Human Rights Watch called on him to “take immediate steps to allow Beatriz to terminate this pregnancy, which puts her life at serious risk,” without her facing criminal penalty.
The attorney general has said that El Salvador’s criminal prohibition on abortion will be applied if Beatriz undergoes the procedure, Human Rights Watch reported.
Bishops and anti-choice groups in El Salvador have publicly opposed abortion in this case, Reuters reported May 8. They have said the young woman is being used by pro-choice organizations to push ahead with a campaign to partly decriminalize the country’s abortion ban.
Hajer Naili is a New-York based reporter for Women’s eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa.

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