A seriously ill woman in El Salvador who was denied a potentially life-saving abortion by the country’s Supreme Court could give birth by Caesarean section within the next few days, the health minister said yesterday.
Beatriz, 22, from rural western El Salvador, suffers from lupus and kidney disease, which could trigger fatal complications in the third trimester of pregnancy. She is 26 weeks pregnant, but scans show the foetus has an incomplete brain and will not survive more than a few days outside the womb.
Her doctors recommended an abortion almost three months ago due to these serious risks, but abortion is illegal in all circumstances in El Salvador and punishable by up to 50 years in prison.
The announcement by the Health Minister, Maria Rodriguez, follows an unprecedented intervention by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ordered El Salvador to safeguard the young mother’s health. Beatriz has a 14-month-old son and has repeatedly pleaded with authorities to be allowed to live for his sake.
El Salvador’s Supreme Court had controversially refused to authorise an abortion for Beatriz, ordering her to continue the pregnancy until the risk to her life became “imminent”.
It is the first time the Inter-American Court has ruled on an abortion case.