El Salvador’s Total Abortion Ban

By: Daniel Nardini

A innocent young Salvadoran lady named Beatriz (note: her full named has not yet been disclosed) is fighting for her life. She has been diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to attack its own tissue. Normally treatment can be performed. However, she is also 23 weeks pregnant, and if she carries her pregnancy to full term she will most certainly be dead. The only answer, as terrible as it is, is for Beatriz to have an abortion so that she can get treatment for lupus. But there is one legal complication—El Salvador is one of three countries in Latin America that has completely outlawed abortion for any circumstances, including saving the life of the mother. Beatriz, coming from a poor family, has no money to get medical attention outside of El Salvador. The only other two countries that have outlawed abortion for any reason are Nicaragua and Chile.

This law was passed in 1997 by then Salvadoran President Armando Calderon Sol of the Nationalist Republican Alliance party. He passed this no exception law to appease the Catholic Church in El Salvador at the time. Sadly, this law has been in place since then. For those Salvadoran women who could, they got abortions outside the country in secret. The reason is not hard to figure—the law calls for mandatory imprisonment for doctors for performing abortions and for those women who obtain abortions. Plus, there is also extreme religious and social stigma attached to any woman who tries to obtain an abortion in El Salvador. At this point, lawyers for Beatriz are asking the Salvadoran Supreme Court to decide immediately on whether there should be an exception made to save the life of Beatriz. Since this anti-abortion law was passed, 600 women have been “investigated” by the government and 30 were sentenced to prison.

Beatriz has a LOT of support from women and women’s rights groups who know that this law is medieval and should not be an excuse to let an innocent woman die for the “sake” of preserving an anti-woman law. Even the United Nations representative in El Salvador has called upon the Salvadoran government to make an exception to save Beatriz’s life. Strangely enough, the Catholic Church still opposes abortions in El Salvador and this one in particular. Beatriz herself has written a letter pleading with the President of El Salvador to let her live. I have to ask the important question if all the president’s men and the legal machinery of El Salvador will simply do nothing and let this poor woman die needlessly? Do they want blood on their hands?

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