El Salvador Must End Total Ban on Abortions As Beatriz, 22, Recovers From Early Caesarian Section

Press Release
June 4, 2013

El Salvador Must End Total Ban on Abortions As Beatriz, 22, Recovers From Early Caesarian Section

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – Amnesty International said today that no woman should ever experience the "unimaginable cruelty," torture and discrimination suffered by the pregnant El Salvador women Beatriz, as she fought her government for months to obtain treatment to save her life. The organization urged El Salvador to end its total ban on abortion as Beatriz was recovering in a hospital from an early caesarean section, which the government finally granted.

Doctors performed the early caesarean section on Monday to prevent the 22-year-old woman’s death from complications posed by serious illness and a non- viable pregnancy.

"We wish Beatriz a speedy and full recovery after this harrowing and unnecessarily drawn-out experience," said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s researcher on El Salvador. "At the same time, we want to clearly state that no woman or girl should experience the kind of discrimination and torture Beatriz went through when she was fighting for her life while being denied access to life saving and health preserving abortion services."

Beatriz, whose situation galvanized activists around the world, was made to suffer for weeks on end while El Salvador's courts and officials debated whether to treat her.

Amnesty International said every woman - in El Salvador or anywhere else in the world - should be allowed access to lifesaving medical treatment when they need it.

"The Salvadoran government must immediately take action to end the total ban on abortion and bring its legislation into line with international human rights standards," said Major. "Laws must not tie the hands of doctors, or prevent women and girls from accessing a treatment which is necessary, as in this case, to save their lives or health."

"This appalling situation should never have occurred. It was an act of unimaginable cruelty for the Salvadoran government to have toyed with her life and health this way. For over two months, Beatriz has waited in anguish and ill-health, not knowing if she would survive another day of the pregnancy. It is hard to believe that she was forced to campaign to save her own life and health. We are humbled by Beatriz's bravery in the face of this cruelty," she added.

Alongside the organization, Agrupación Ciudadana, who worked tirelessly on her behalf, were hundreds of thousands of people across the world who added their voices to the call for her human rights to be upheld, many of them responding to the different appeals made by Amnesty International offices all over the world.

Beatriz, who was already the mother of a young son, suffers from a number of severe illnesses including lupus and kidney problems, which meant that continuing the non-viable anencephalic pregnancy posed a serious threat to her life and health. Doctors said Beatriz could die if she continued with the pregnancy but did not treat her for fear of being prosecuted under the country's total ban on abortion.

As predicted by doctors, the fetus survived just a few hours after being born without large parts of its head and brain.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.