***This post is a follow-up to mistermix’s post and includes action items. -ABLxx
The Supreme Court of El Salvador has handed down a death sentence for Beatriz, a 22-year-old woman who desperately needs an abortion to save her life. Jodi Jacobson of RH Reality Check has the story:
In a stunning decision made worse by the length of time it took to be handed down, the Supreme Court of El Salvador gave a young woman a death sentence on Wednesday by denying “permission” for an abortion needed to save her life.
Beatriz (a pseudonym) is now 24 weeks into an extremely high-risk pregnancy, complicated by a severe form of lupus, an autoimmune disease, hypertension, and renal (kidney) failure. Moreover, her pregnancy is not viable. The fetus she is carrying is anencephalic—it does not and will never have a fully formed brain—and can not survive more than a few hours after childbirth, if it survives at all. More than ten weeks ago, in the first trimester of pregnancy, Beatriz’s doctors determined she herself could not survive this pregnancy and strongly recommended to authorities that she be allowed to have an abortion to save her life. The minister of health concurred. According to the New York Times:
In a letter addressed to the Supreme Court last month, Health Minister María Isabel Rodríguez described Beatriz’s situation as “grave maternal illness with a high probability of deterioration or maternal death.” Given the fatal prognosis of the fetus, “it is necessary to undertake a medical-legal approach urgently,” Ms. Rodríguez wrote.
This was no routine medical recommendation: Abortion is banned in El Salvador without exception, and both physicians providing and women receiving abortions can be imprisoned for many years. It is thus not often that physicians, much less the minister of health, are willing to put themselves at risk even when a woman’s life is in danger. And in part as a result of these realities, maternal mortality in El Salvador remains very high.
Beatriz could have had an abortion before the end of her first trimester, and we likely would never have heard of her. But the country’s attorney general asserted he would indeed prosecute the case if the doctors performed an abortion, and so a cruel and confusing international circus began.
~snip~[T]he case went to the Supreme Court where Beatriz herself pleaded for her own life, telling the court she wanted to live and raise her son. In a response that was as shocking then as today’s final decision is now, the Court told her they’d get back to her within 15 days, completely dismissing the agony of pain and uncertainty each day of waiting means for this woman. Meanwhile, every day that has passed has taken an increasing toll on her body and health, multiplied the costs of her medical care, increased the risk of death from a c-section or labor, and made less and less likely the prospect that she will survive. Speaking by phone to RH Reality Check last week, Beatriz’s lawyer Victor Hugo Mata asserted that “if anything happens to Beatriz, the judges of the Supreme Court will in some way be responsible.”
Today, as reported by the New York Times, the court ruled 4-to-1 against saving Beatriz’s life, citing the country’s legal “absolute impediment to authorize the practice of abortion.” The court ruled that “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
Change.org in concert with various national and international women’s rights organizations are petitioning Pope Francis to spare Beatriz’s life. The petition reads as follows:
To: His Holiness Pope Francis, Twitter @Pontifex
We are writing to ask you to ask Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes to spare Beatriz’s life. Beatriz is a young wife and mother in El Salvador. She is pregnant. According to her doctors, her fetus has no brain, and she has several medical conditions that make it likely she will die in labor if she gives birth. El Salvador is a Catholic country. It has extremely strict laws preventing abortion — even in cases where the mother’s health and even life are threatened, and even when the life in her womb is so damaged that it could never become its own person. She has been denied the care she needs, and her appeals have been rejected by El Salvador’s Supreme Court. If she is not allowed to get the medical care she needs, Beatriz is likely to die, which will also leave her 1-year-old son motherless and husband a widower. This policy will not save any innocent life, but it may well take the innocent life of a mother. There is nothing Christian about such a policy. Please help save Beatriz — for her, for her family. She has done nothing wrong. Let His Holiness show the world that the Catholic church is an instrument of God’s mercy by coming to this young woman’s aid.
Please sign this petition. Please pass it along to your friends and family. Beatriz’s life just may depend on it.
It is sad that it has come to this: That a living breathing woman’s right to life is being trumped by the “rights” of a fetus — a fetus that has no chance of survival outside the womb.
UPDATE: To donate to help save Beatriz’s life, click here. All funds collected for Beatriz are being accepted by Women’s Link Worldwide, an international non-profit organization working to promote women’s rights. They will pass through tax-deductible contributions to the local Salvadoran organization Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Ético, Terapéutico y Eugenésico (Citizens Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion), which is leading the legal fight on the ground for Beatriz. All funds will first and foremost be used for Beatriz’s medical bills, and any remaining funds will be used to help support the work of the Citizens Association.
[via RH Reality Check]