Beatriz: Condemned to Die at 22 by El Salvador?

April 29, 2013

Women’s human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
Women’s human rights activists gather in El Salvador to demand Beatriz is granted the life-saving treatment she needs (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Beatriz’s life is literally in the hands of the Salvadoran government. Demand that they immediately grant her the life-saving medical treatment she needs – before it’s too late.

About Beatriz’s Case

As you may have read recently on this blog, Beatriz from El Salvador is 4.5 months pregnant and suffers from lupus and other medical conditions, including kidney disease related to lupus. She also suffered serious complications during her previous pregnancy, resulting in her being deemed at high-risk of maternal mortality should this pregnancy progress. Three scans of her fetus have confirmed it is anencephalic (lacking a large part of the brain and skull). Almost all babies with anencephaly die before birth or within a few hours or days after.

Beatriz wants to live, and at the advice of medical professionals, has requested a therapeutic abortion through her doctors. Because abortion under all circumstances is criminalized in El Salvador, she has had to file a request with the Supreme Court to obtain permission for such treatment. Her request has been with the Supreme Court since it was admitted on April 17. The Supreme Court over the weekend ordered psychological and physical evaluations of Beatriz, suggesting she may not be mentally stable enough to request a therapeutic abortion – despite the fact that the El Salvadorian Minister of Health has publicly affirmed that Beatriz may die should she continue with her pregnancy, and that the fetus she is carrying is not viable.

The Health Ministry’s legal advisor also explicitly urged the court to resolve the case quickly before her condition worsens and called on the Salvadorian legislature to revisit the law criminalizing abortion under all circumstances.

The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights has recently gotten involved, requesting on April 23 the El Salvadorian government provide information within 72 hours on Beatriz’s case.

But the Salvadoran authorities are dragging their feet, and every day they debate the merits of Beatriz’s case, she’s suffering cruel and inhuman treatment. This physical suffering is further compounded by the emotional stress of not knowing whether she will live to see her one-year old son grow up. The continued denial of access to the medical treatment that she needs to survive is in violation of El Salvador’s international human rights obligations and access must be immediately granted.

Women’s sexual and reproductive rights are under siege in the Americas

Sexual and reproductive rights are grounded in human rights that are recognized in international human rights treaties, regional standards, national constitutions and other relevant human rights standards. The realization of sexual and reproductive rights requires respect for rights relating to physical and mental integrity, including the rights to life, to liberty and security of person; to freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; to privacy and respect for family life as well as rights related to freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination.

Violations of the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls are still common throughout the Americas. Unsafe abortions and limited access to contraception service to information about sexual and reproductive health are affecting a number of women and girls. In addition to El Salvador, Chile and Nicaragua ban abortion under all circumstances.

This means that even in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s health or life is in danger, any woman attempting to obtain an abortion – as well as the individuals assisting her in obtaining one – are subject to lengthy jail time and other criminal penalties. This total abortion ban is in contradiction international human rights standards.

Your actions could help save Beatriz’s life

There’s still time to save Beatriz’s life and for the Salvadoran authorities to comply with their international human rights obligations. You can help by taking action right here to call on the government of El Salvador to grant Beatriz the life-saving medical treatment she so desperately needs.

We will continue to post updates on the case, so please take action, stay tuned and share this information out widely.

This post is also available in Spanish.