There have been far too many heartbreaking stories about women denied abortions this year. ONE is too many, and Savita Halappanivar’s death easily stands alone as a reason never to block a woman’s access to the healthcare she wants and needs.
The story of Beatriz* in El Salvador brings more sad news: after being denied an abortion Beatriz knew she wanted, her baby has died. The newborn girl had no brain and various other health problems, resulting in her death only five hours after Beatriz’s C-section.
Beatriz has lupus and kidney failure. When she became pregnant and health trouble arose, doctors said that she would lose her life if she didn't get an abortion. Tragically, El Salvador's strict anti-abortion laws prohibit all abortions, even when a woman's health is at risk. Beatriz and any doctor who terminated her pregnancy would have been arrested.
Beatriz’s lawyers took her case all the way to El Salvador’s Supreme Court, seeking an exception that could save her life. But on May 29, the court ruled against Beatriz’s will to have an abortion. This earned the country some serious international criticism and condemnation from groups like the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
This Monday, a special maternity hospital performed Beatriz’s C-section with eyes peeled for “the slightest danger signs” that could harm or end her life. While the baby didn't survive, Beatriz has so far - she is now in recovery where her health is still being carefully monitored. We're wishing that everything goes well as she recovers, and that El Salvador finally rethinks its anti-abortion policies before any other women's lives are in jeopardy.
*Her name is not known to the press – she uses “Beatriz” to avoid scrutiny and harassment in El Salvador.