Doctors in El Salvador have petitioned the Supreme Court to allow them to perform an abortion that they argue is necessary to save their patient’s life. The penal code of El Salvador bans abortion under all circumstances, with no exception to save the life of the mother. (Such an exception was previously part of the code, but was removed in 1998.)
The patient in question, a 22-year-old woman named Beatriz, has lupus and kidney disease. Her doctors argue that these conditions are worsened by her pregnancy and that her life is in danger. Recent reports say that Beatriz has now entered early stage renal failure.
Obviously, if care is available that will preserve both her life and her child’s, it should be pursued. But that isn’t always possible. All Our Lives has always held that a woman has a right to the medical care she needs to preserve her life, even if that care will result in the death of the child she carries. Neither she nor her doctors should have to worry about facing jail as a result.
I do want to say that I’m troubled by the way the case has been framed in many media outlets. They’ve emphasized that Beatriz’s baby is anencephalic and has a low chance of survival outside the womb. The implication is that the child’s severe disability makes this a more clear-cut case. That the child is anencephalic makes it far less likely that both could be saved, so it’s relevant in that sense. But Beatriz is entitled to life-saving care regardless of the health status of her child. And while the child’s death may be unavoidable, it’s still a death, and no less so for having been likely to happen soon anyway.
If you want to send a message to the El Salvador Supreme Court, they have a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Ask them to remember Beatriz’s constitutional right to life, and to allow her to receive whatever care she might need to preserve it. Letting her die would not be pro-life.
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