Salvadoran Woman Faces Jail Time If She Has Lifesaving Abortion

A 22-year woman in El Salvador faces a life-or-death decision: risk death during childbirth or safe her life by getting an abortion and risk being sent to jail time under Salvadoran law.

The woman, known only as Beatriz, is four-and-a-half months pregnant and suffering from several illnesses – including lupus and kidney disease. The fetus is also under severe strain, as images reveal the fetus has a large part of its brain and skull missing and is likely to die before it’s born or within hours of birth, Amnesty International reported.

The non-governmental organization focused on human rights is pushing the Salvadoran government to permit Beatriz to have an abortion that could potentially safe her life and allow her to raise the child she currently has, a 1-year-old son.

Salvadoran penal law currently enforces strict penalties on anyone seeking or performing an abortion, meaning that both Beatriz and the doctors performing the abortion would be at risk of prison time if the termination is carried out.

“We hope that the Supreme Court treats this case with the urgency it merits, given that Beatriz’s life and health are at risk,” said Esther Major, Amnesty International’s researcher on Central America, said in a statement. “She is suffering cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in being denied the medical intervention she so urgently needs.”

Medical officials treating Beatriz have cautioned that, without an abortion, she is in danger of death. They have also petitioned the Salvadoran government for the legal authority to perform the abortion, but have so far received no word.

“Beatriz’s situation is desperate and must not wait any longer. Her very chances of survival depend on a decision from the authorities,” Major said. “The delay is nothing short of cruel and inhuman. The government has a duty to ensure Beatriz can access the life-saving treatment she needs.”

Beatriz, who was sick before becoming pregnant but whose symptoms worsened during pregnancy, has petitioned the country’s Supreme Court to rule on her case.

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