Why El Salvador Must Immediately #SaveBeatriz

May 7, 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).

As you’re reading this, the Salvadoran authorities are STILL biding their time discussing the merits of Beatriz’s case, the young mother we posted about earlier this month. While she’s in the hospital experiencing early stage kidney failure, the authorities are holding the key to her life that is quickly fading.

We’ve promised updates on this case. Unfortunately, we know that Beatriz has been subjected to another week of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and have no news regarding action by the authorities to save her life – in accordance with her wishes, and the recommendation of the health professionals responsible for her care.

Imagine you are in a hospital. You have lupus and you are experiencing kidney complications as a result. You have a one-year old son at home who was delivered by cesarean section weeks early because of pregnancy-related health complications. You’re pregnant again, and have been diagnosed as high-risk.

You found out after three sonograms your fetus is anencephalic, meaning that a portion of the fetus’s brain – consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres including the neo-cortex – doesn’t exist. With very few exceptions, fetuses with anencephaly do not make it to term and none survive infancy.

Your doctors recommend a therapeutic abortion as medical treatment in order for your chances of survival to greatly increase.

Except if you acquire an abortion, not only would you face criminal penalties of up to 30 years in jail, so would the medical professionals administering the treatment you need.

Sounds like a nightmare, right? For one Salvadoran woman, it’s reality.

This is what Beatriz is experiencing right now and her life is in the hands of the Salvadoran authorities. Currently in El Salvador, abortion under all circumstances is criminalized. Beatriz, through the health professionals responsible for her care, has been waiting for permission to proceed with the recommended treatment since the end of March when she submitted a request to the Salvadoran authorities for a therapeutic abortion – deemed necessary to safeguard her health and life. They also asked for a guarantee that the doctors treating her would not be prosecuted under the country’s strict laws. When the authorities failed to respond, Beatriz’s lawyers took the request to the country’s Supreme Court, and the Court has still not issued a decision authorizing the treatment she needs to survive.

This is what the Salvadoran authorities need to think about when they continue to jeopardize the life of this woman for yet another day, dragging their feet debating the merits of her case. She may not have many days left if the authorities do not move quickly to allow her doctors to provide the treatment they determined is necessary.

Keep in mind that Salvadoran authorities are biding their time despite precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, the United Nations representative in El Salvador and the UN experts on the right to health; torture; and violence and discrimination against women amongst other international experts urging the authorities to grant Beatriz the therapeutic abortion she needs. This is also despite El Salvador’s own Minister of Health as well as her legal advisor writing to the Supreme Court of El Salvador corroborating the medical claims of Beatriz’s case. This is in spite of El Salvador’s international human rights obligations to ensure Beatriz’s sexual and reproductive rights.

For so many reasons, the Salvadoran authorities must act to #SaveBeatriz. It’s appalling that we live in a world today where cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment such as what’s happening to Beatriz is tolerated.

There’s still time for the Salvadoran authorities to act and save Beatriz’s life, but that window of opportunity is swiftly closing.

Join Amnesty International and so many others to call on the Salvadoran authorities to immediately grant Beatriz the therapeutic abortion she so desperately needs to survive, without the threat, risk or fear of criminal prosecution. Check our blog regularly for updates on the case.