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Salvadorian woman allowed to end pregnancy

Chronically ill woman to terminate pregnancy through C-section after having application for abortion overturned.

Last Modified: 31 May 2013 21:11
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Regional Human Rights court rules that El Salvador should protect life of Salvadorean mother [AFP]

A chronically ill Salvadoran woman who was denied an abortion despite her high-risk pregnancy has said she will undergo a premature Caesarean section next week.

The woman, known only as "Beatriz" to protect her identity, made the announcement after the country's Supreme Court rejected an appeal brought by the 22-year-old woman, to terminate her pregnancy.

The decision also comes as the regional human rights court for the Americas called on El Salvador to let doctors perform an abortion on Beatriz in the hotly debated case.

Beatriz suffers from lupus, a disease that weakens her immune system, and doctors said that the fetus she carried has anencephaly, a total or partial absence of the brain and the skull, and probably would die upon birth.

Beatriz, whose own life is also at risk, said that she would undergo a Caesarean section next week.

"I feel very well, because now they are going to do it," she told AFP news agency by telephone, referring to the operation that has been scheduled to take place when she is 26 weeks pregnant.

 

Beatriz told AFP on Thursday that she was "very nervous" but wanted the Caesarean section to ensure her own health and because "the child is not going to live".

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), based in Costa Rica, said on Thursday that El Salvador needed to take urgent action to protect the life of Beatriz. 

That means performing an abortion, a spokeswoman for the court said.

The IACHR, which does not have power to penalise member countries, issued the ruling as an extraordinary and provisional measure.

Doctors hands

While El Salvador is not obliged to comply with the ruling, the international court has asked the South American government to comply with its resolution before June 8.

Salvadoran Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez told media the case was now in the hands of Beatriz's doctors.

"We give the medical team the responsibility to monitor the case in the way the technical groups (deem necessary), we recognise the role of technical groups, in the handling of the case.

"We adhere to that position and respect the position of the teams treating her. The moment this girl is in danger, the medical team will be authorised to take the corresponding decision," said Rodriguez.

Beatriz is already the mother of a two-year-old son.

The sentence for violating the abortion ban is 50 years in prison.

The case has been highly controversial. The archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar, asked the court several times not to allow the woman to have an abortion, arguing it would open the gates to more such requests.

The IACHR also called on the San Salvador government to allow Beatriz to be seen "by doctors of her choosing," and to protect the rights of her physicians treating her.

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