'Beatriz' Abortion: El Salvador Rules She Can't Terminate Pregnancy, But Allows a C-Section

The Supreme Court of El Salvador has approved doctor's requests to perform a C-section on 22-year-old woman in order to save her life. A day after having her request for an abortion rejected by the Supreme Court of El Salvador, where abortions are prohibited under all circumstances, the health minister ruled Thursday that this C-section was an acceptable intervention in order to save the 26-weeks-pregnant woman known as "Beatriz."

Despite recommendations from her maternity hospital and the Ministry of Health, Beatriz was denied an abortion by the Supreme Court. In their ruling, the judges said: "This court determines that the rights of the mother cannot take precedence over those of the unborn child or vice versa, and that there is an absolute bar to authorizing an abortion as contrary to the constitutional protection accorded to human persons 'from the moment of conception.'" Tests show that the foetus is developing with anencephaly, meaning it does not have a properly developed brain. Almost all babies suffering from this disorder die before or right after birth.

The court also believed that Beatriz's health, despite her suffering from kidney failure and lupus, was not in danger and she could continue the pregnancy, a decision Amnesty International called "cruel and callous" and "a potential death sentence for Beatriz."

The next day Health Minister Maria Rodriguez told reporters she had approved a C-section, saying, "It is very clear at this time that the pregnancy intervention is not an abortion, it is an induced birth, which is something else." This decision was following shortly by a ruling from Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordering El Salvador needed to protect Beatriz's life and integrity and help her end her pregnancy.

The Health Department has not given a date for the C-section, but Beatriz is currently undergoing tests to prepare her for surgery. 

Abortion is completely banned in seven Latin American countries, a region where 95% of abortions from 1995-2008 were considered to be unsafe. World Health Organization studies show that abortion laws such as those in Latin American do not actually cause lower abortion rates, but only more unsafe abortions.

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Maxime Fischer-Zernin

Studying Political Science at Duke University (T. '15). His interests lie primarily in American national security and foreign policy. He is currently an Editor-at-Large for the Duke Political Review, and is a contributor for PolicyMic.com.

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