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LATIN AMERICA | 08-03-2023 05:46

Feminists in El Salvador condemn state for denying woman life-saving abortion

Feminist groups on Monday called on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to condemn El Salvador for denying a now deceased woman the possibility of aborting a brainless fetus in 2013, due to the criminalisation of termination of pregnancy in the country. 

Feminist groups on Monday called on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to condemn El Salvador for denying a woman the possibility of aborting a brainless foetus in 2013, due to the criminalisation of termination of pregnancy in the country. 

The victim, now deceased, was a rural worker known only by her first name, Beatríz. Doctors recommended to her in 2013 that she terminate her pregnancy immediately to save her life. 

Knowing "all the violations" of rights that Beatriz and her family faced, "we hope that the Salvadoran state will be condemned," said Sara García, of the Citizens' Association for the Decriminalisation of Life-saving, Ethical and Eugenic Abortion (ACDATEE), at a press conference.

Condemnation of the state in an upcoming trial, due to take place March 22-23 at the Inter-American Court, would be an act of "justice" for women's human rights, said Irma Lima, the president of the NGO Colectiva Feminista.

Activists hope that the court will order "measures of non-repetition" and bring about "structural changes" in Salvadoran legislation, which absolutely prohibits abortion, said García.

Beatríz's case has garnered international attention. After 81 days of suffering and an intervention by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on June 3, 2013, Salvadoran authorities authorised an early caesarean section, but the baby died hours later.

Beatríz herself died on October 8, 2017 after a motorbike accident, just shy of her 27th birthday.

"Her fight continues, and we as a family have taken it up again until we get justice for my sister, so that no woman goes through what my sister had to go through again," said Humberto, 30, Beatríz's brother.

With the support of ACDATEE and other organisations, Beatriz filed a complaint against the Salvadoran state on November 29, 2013 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington. In 2022, the case was transferred to the Inter-American Court in San José.

El Salvador's Penal Code imposes a sentence of two to eight years in prison for abortion, but prosecutors and judges often classify cases of miscarriage as aggravated homicide, a crime punishable by 30 to 50 years in prison.

 

–– TIMES/AFP

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