El Salvador’s abortion laws could kill 22-year old Beatriz

The issue of abortion rights was a controversial subject for some at Amnesty. But many of those who opted out of campaigning in this area have been touched by the story of Beatriz in El Salvador. This is a case which takes the argument beyond the purely academic and moralistic and plants it firmly in the realms of real-life human story: a young woman at grave risk of losing her life, her young son at risk of losing his mother.

Beatriz is just 22 years old and is expecting her second child. She suffers from lupus, which has weakened her kidneys, and suffered serious complications during her previous pregnancy. Doctors have confirmed that she is at high risk of a pregnancy-related death. Scans have confirmed that the foetus is lacking a large part of the brain and skull and will almost certainly die before birth or within a few hours or days of birth.

Surely in these circumstances a therapeutic abortion is a sensible and humane response to save Beatriz further unnecessary suffering?

Indeed, Beatriz wants a termination in order to save her life, and she has been requesting this for over a month. Her doctors, the health ministry, the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have all backed her appeal, but as yet the doctors are too afraid to go ahead, because abortion is criminalised in all circumstances in El Salvador. The maximum penalty is 12 years, so you can understand why doctors want legal assurances before proceeding.

The Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the case, but has not yet reached a decision. But the clock is ticking for Beatriz, and every day that passes increases the risk of her suffering potentially fatal complications. So in attempting to protect one life that will almost certainly be cut short anyway, the state of El Salvador is currently prepared to risk the life of a 22-year old woman and potentially deprive her young son of a loving mother.

The Supreme Court needs to act now before it’s too late. Take action now and support Beatriz

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