Salvadoran doctors perform risky C-section

2013-06-04 11:07
Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico city. (Ronaldo Schemidt

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico city. (Ronaldo Schemidt

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San Salvador - Doctors performed a C-section on Monday on a chronically ill Salvadoran woman denied an abortion despite her high-risk pregnancy, in a case that garnered global attention, an official said on Monday.

The 22-year-old was in a stable condition after undergoing a cesarean in the early afternoon, Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez said. The baby, a girl, did not survive, she added.

Abortion is illegal in El Salvador, even when the mother's life is at risk.

The woman, who has only been identified by a pseudonym, had requested an abortion to terminate the pregnancy because she suffers from lupus, which weakens the immune system.

The foetus she was carrying had anencephaly, a total or partial absence of the brain and the skull.

El Salvador's Supreme Court rejected her request, saying the rights of the mother could not take precedence over those of the unborn child.

With the approval of the health minister, doctors proceeded to deliver the baby prematurely by C-section after 26 weeks of gestation.

"It is very clear at this time that the pregnancy intervention is not an abortion, it is an induced birth, which is something else," Rodriguez told reporters last week.

The woman delivered at the capital's main maternity hospital.

Shameful and discriminatory

Sensitive to the international interest in the case, a spokesperson from the office of President Mauricio Funes said that in Beatriz's case, "everything transpired as the specialists had expected".

Claudia Handal, a spokesperson for the conservative NGOs Family Network, told AFP earlier that the baby had managed to survive and that doctors were caring for the infant.

According to the health minister, it survived for five hours.

"What we have been told is that Beatriz is well," said Morena Herrera, the head of Acdatee, an abortion rights group.

Beatriz's case garnered attention around the world, with women's organisations and rights groups outraged at her plight. The woman, who is already the mother of a one-year-old baby, could have been jailed for 50 years had she had an abortion.

The Inter-American Human Rights Court in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Thursday had ordered El Salvador to act swiftly to protect the mother's life.

"Given the mother's health condition, this pregnancy is a risk to her life, a fact that merits extreme and urgent measures be taken to safeguard her health," the regional court had warned.

Amnesty International called the Salvadoran court's ruling shameful and discriminatory.

"Having put Beatriz through this long process, dragging out for seven weeks a decision that affects a person whose life is in immediate danger, is something cruel, inhumane and degrading," the rights watchdog said.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  el salvador  |  human rights

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