The Supreme Court of El Salvador has still not issued a decision about whether or not it will allow a woman in El Salvador to terminate a life-threatening, non-viable fetus.
“Beatriz”, who is currently 22 and already a mother of a young infant, was diagnosed with multiple severe illnesses and is 18 weeks pregnant. In addition, the fetus will not survive more than a few days outside the womb (if at all) due to a severe fetal abnormality where part of the brain does not develop. Doctors fear that if she continues with the pregnancy, Beatriz could lose her life. Abortion in any circumstance is illegal in El Salvador and if Beatriz and her doctors proceed with the abortion without approval from the Supreme Court they could face up to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. While the Supreme Court has agreed to hear her case, the Court has not released anything related to the case in the month since the hospital sought permission to treat Beatriz.
Over 45,000 people from around the world have signed a petition urging Salvadorian President Mauricio Funes to authorize the procedure. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights have also pressured the government to intervene. The UN experts on the right to health; torture; and violence against women issued a joint statement saying, “We urge the Government of El Salvador to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and full enjoyment of the right to life, and to the highest attainable standard of health for Beatriz, in accordance with international human rights law.”
Since a total ban on abortion was passed in 1998, 628 women have been imprisoned for their abortion, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Of those, 24 were charged with “aggravated murder,” which can mean a penalty of up to 30 years in jail.