Salvadoran Woman Denied A Life-Saving Abortion Even Though Her Fetus Is Missing Its Brain

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

El Salvador’s Supreme Court has decided to deny a 22-year-old woman a lifesaving abortion, ruling against making a medical exception to the conservative nation’s stringent abortion ban. Without an abortion, the woman will likely die — along with her nonviable fetus, which is missing its brain.

Identified in the press only as “Beatriz,” the young Salvadoran woman suffers from a chronic health condition that worsens when she is pregnant, and her doctors have warned that she is at “high risk of death” if she continues to carry her fetus. Several ultrasounds have revealed that, even if Beatriz does survive to carry the fetus to full term, it has virtually no chance of survival because it has no brain.

Beatriz has been fighting for an abortion for the past three months, and several international human rights organizations have taken up her case. But it’s been an uphill battle in her deeply Catholic nation, where abortion is illegal under absolutely all circumstances and punishable by up to 30 years in prison. After El Salvador’s attorney general refused to grant Beatriz and her doctors an exception to the harsh law, the pregnant woman turned to the Supreme Court.

And on Wednesday, the highest court in the country denied Beatriz permission to access the medical care that would save her life. El Salvador’s Supreme Court took several weeks to deliberate Beatriz’s case in consultation with the Institute of Legal Medicine, which advises the court on medical issues. The Institute determined that Beatriz’s health “was not yet in absolute danger.”

There are no options left. “We cannot appeal the case because this was the last step, the Supreme Court,” Victor Hugo Mata, the lawyer representing Beatriz, told CBS News.

Beatriz has been hospitalized for the last several months, separated from her husband and 14-month-old son. And even though the country’s Institute of Legal Medicine claims that Beatriz isn’t in critical condition yet, a group of her doctors have warned that her health is deteriorating daily. Earlier this month, Beatriz recorded a personal appeal to her president to intervene and save her life. “President Mauricio Funes Cartagena, help me please,” she begged. “This baby inside me cannot survive. I am ill. I want to live… I want to live for my son.” That help has not come for Beatriz.

“It’s a situation where the risk increases as time goes on — and a lot of the risks could have been avoided if the Salvadoran government had reasonable regulations in place that when the life of the mother is at risk, the health of the mother is threatened, there would be an exception to their outright ban on abortions,” Larry Ladutke, an Amnesty Internationl specialist on El Salvador, explained.

Lilian Sepúlveda, the global legal program director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the Supreme Court’s decision to deny Beatriz a life-saving abortion is “an appalling and disgraceful violation of her fundamental human rights” and pointed out that “Salvadoran women have been paying an unacceptably high price for El Salvador’s abortion ban.” Unfortunately, this isn’t unique to Beatriz’s country. Around the world, thousands of women die every year because they lack access to safe reproductive care. Even here in the United States, where women have the right to legal abortion services, anti-choice lawmakers have still successfully imposed barriers to reproductive care — even in similar situations as Beatriz’s, when women are carrying fetuses with no brain function.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

Related: 5 Countries That Would Let a Woman Die Before Getting an Abortion



Ori M.
oriana M4 years ago

I hope she gets her abortion in the end. It's ridiculous that she was banned it.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 4 years ago

Congratulations to those who pulled for Beatriz...may she have a long and productive life and not be made to bear shame by shameless and cruel people wholly unconnected to her. May they never suffer as she did.

Pamela W.
Pamela W4 years ago

GOOD NEWS FOLKS !!!!!!! Just received the following from Amnesty International .....

Dear Pamela,

Thank YOU for standing up to demand health care for Beatriz, a pregnant mother in El Salvador who could have died after being denied life-saving treatment.

Beatriz finally received treatment yesterday. You, along with hundreds of thousands of activists around the globe, created critical public pressure. Your messages, tweets, solidarity photos and activism pushed officials to save her life -- and they meant the world to Beatriz, her family, and those in El Salvador campaigning tirelessly on her behalf.

Beatriz is now recovering.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle4 years ago

Another lovely side affect of US nation building. Never forget the Iran-Contra affair and how the US supported the 'Freedom Fighters' in San Salvador to keep it's people free of things like breathing.

Mary B.
Mary B4 years ago

Cyan D.....I see you have been proven wrong yet again......You are one of the most unsympathetic "posters" I have seen........always blaming someone else or something they have I have said before, on many threads, your credibility goes down almost every time you post...Linda M's credentials are extremely impressive and in some Northern Communities in Canada she could work as the only health professional for thousands of kilometers, making life saving decisions just like an MD......quit now.....

Elaine Robinson
Elaine R4 years ago

Shame she didnot have a miscarriage this would of been better for her and her unborn child

Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago


pam w.
pam w4 years ago

STARS to Linda M, who, even though she doubts she'd ever have an abortion herself, is strongly PRO-CHOICE for all women!

See--here's the thing. A woman can never know FOR CERTAIN what her circumstances might be when she finds herself pregnant. You might THINK you know---but you can't know what your finances might be, what your job situation might be, what your health or the health of your other family members might be, etc.

Trying to eliminate the right to terminate a pregnancy for every woman in the nation is cruel, narrow-minded, foolish and punitive.

If you don't think abortion is something which fits into YOUR standards of morality....fine! Don't have one!

But nothing gives you the right to impose that choice on anyone else because you don't live her life!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 4 years ago

Oops, "herd of wild mustangs".