At-risk woman denied abortion, has C-section to deliver nonviable baby


In a case that has garnered global attention, doctors performed a cesarean section Monday on a chronically ill Salvadoran woman denied an abortion despite her high-risk pregnancy, an official said.

The 22-year-old was in stable condition after undergoing a C-section 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, Beatriz, had requested an abortion to terminate the pregnancy because she suffers from lupus, which weakens the immune system. The fetus 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 said last week.

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

Sensitive to the international interest in the case, a representative from the office of President Mauricio Funes said that in Beatriz’s case, “everything transpired as the specialists had expected.”

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

According to the health minister, the baby lived for just five hours.