BEATRIZ WANTS TO LIVE, AND SHE NEEDS THE HEALTH SYSTEM TO GUARANTEE HER THE PROCEDURES TO SAVE HER LIFE
Beatriz , a 22 year old woman who lives in a small community in eastern El Salvador, is pregnant and at high risk of pregnancy-related death. She suffers from discoid lupus erythematosus aggravated by nephritis or Bright’s disesase. A year ago she had a pregnancy classified as high risk because she had anemia, lupus, pneumonia, pleural effusion, and hypertension. Therefore she was categorized as having severe preeclampsia, which added to the other illnesses from which she suffered. Eventually a Cesearean section was performed and the baby, who was not released from the hospital for 38 days, was diagnosed as a pre-term newborn with respiratory distress syndrome and necrotizing enterocolitis. It was proposed to Beatriz that she be sterilized because of the high risk associated with another pregnancy, but she decided against it because she feared that her newborn would die, and she would not be able to have child.
Now she is pregnant again, but according to the last three ultrasounds performed, the fetus is anecephalic, which means without a brain, and if the fetus goes to term, it would not survive outside the uterus of the mother. Given this clinical picture, the Maternity Hospital has determined that “it is of vital importance to carry out a medical procedure given that without it, there is a very strong probability of maternal death.” However, because of the current legislation in El Salvador which criminalizes abortion in all forms, the medical personnel at the Maternity Hospital do not dare to carry out a procedure to interrupt the pregnancy, which is not viable, in order to save Beatriz’s life, for fear of being charged with the crime of performing an abortion. In addition, it is clear that Beatriz would be the first to go to jail if the pregnancy were interrupted.
This case shows very dramatically the consequences of the passage of Article 133 in the Criminal Code that indiscriminately condemns carrying out of any type of abortion, even when it is a procedure necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In this case the prohibition is even more illogical, given that the fetus is not viable. Therefore there is no moral dilemma about choosing whose life to save, either the woman’s or that of the baby about to be born.
Beatriz wants to live. She is a young woman with plans for her life, and she is the mother of a one-year-old child whom she wants to raise and protect. She has the right to have the State guarantee her right to life and health. Therefore today we are presenting an action for constitutional protection before the Supreme Court of El Salvador requesting that they send an immediate provision to the health authorities so that they intervene immediately to save a life in grave danger, with the guarantee that they will not be charged with the crime of abortion.
For these reasons, tomorrow a request for preventative measures will be presented to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights asking them to intervene, knowing the limits of the Salvadoran constitutional protection, and that in the case that the patient dies or suffers irreparable harm, it will be the authorities responsible for acting who must take responsibility for the consequences.
WE REQUEST THAT THE HEALTH SYSTEM APPLY ALL THE NECESSARY PROCEDURES AVAILABLE TO SAFE THE LIFE OF BEATRIZ.
WE ASK THAT THE SUPREME COURT PROVIDE THE NECESSARY GUARANTIES TO THE HEALTH PERSONNEL SO THAT THEY CAN CARRY OUT THE NECESSARY PROCEDURES TO SAVE THE LIFE OF BEATRIZ.
WE ASK THAT THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC AND THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE COMPLY WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS TO “REVISE THE LEGISLATION ON ABORTION TO MAKE IT COMPATIBLE WITH THE REGULATIONS OF THE AGREEMENT. THE STATE SHOULD TAKE MEASURES TO STOP WOMEN WHO USE PUBLIC HOSPITALS FROM BEING CHARGED BY MEDICAL OR ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL WITH THE CRIME OF ABORTION. ADDITIONALLY, IN THE CASE THAT THE STATE DOES NOT REVISE THE CURRENT LEGISLATION, THE STATE SHOULD SUSPEND THE INCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN FOR THE CRIME OF ABORTION. THE STATE SHOULD INITIATE A NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON THE SEXUAL HEALTH AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS OF WOMEN.”