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El Salvador: urgent appeal




The Central American Women’s Network (CAWN) adds its voice to our partner’s, the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion and to the United Nations’ appeal to the government of El Salvador to allow doctors to save a woman’s life by terminating her pregnancy. Doctors treating ‘Beatriz’ urgently need to terminate her pregnancy to save her life. Neither Beatriz nor the foetus she is carrying can survive the pregnancy.  Abortion is criminalised in all circumstances in El Salvador – including to save a woman’s life. If her doctors perform an abortion, both they and Beatriz will face prosecution for murder and up to 50 years in prison, even though the foetus is not even viable.  Both El Salvador’s Minister of Health and the Attorney General for Human Rights have called for an exception to the abortion ban in order to save Beatriz’s life.  However, the Public Prosecutor has said he will proceed against the doctors and Beatriz, and the Protection Board of childhood and adolescence has appointed an attorney to protect the rights of the unborn.  A request for speedy legal intervention was made to the Constitutional Court on 18 April, which should have ruled on the case within five days. However the Court has delayed making this life and death decision, demanding instead that Beatriz is subjected to further mental and physical examinations.  CAWN calls: 
  • individuals to sign this petition and write to the relevant Salvadoran authorities; 
  • civil society organisations to continue to put pressure on the United Nations to appeal to El Salvador’s government to provide the medical care she needs; 
  • the British Government and other international governments to appeal to El Salvador’s president, Mauricio Funes, to take steps against the Public Prosecutor and Protection Board of Childhood and Adolescence in El Salvador who are preventing treatment reaching Beatriz. 
As each day passes, Beatriz’s life hangs in the balance. 

Write to CAWN to for more information. 

NOTES AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION  1. Abortion is banned under all circumstances by Article 133 of El Salvador’s Penal Code com/downloads/229093/Codigo_Penal_de_El_Salvador.pdf  2.   Not even to save a woman’s life.  Abortion is criminalised throughout Central America. El Salvador and Nicaragua have the most stringent bans on abortion, which allow for no exception for cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother’s health or severe foetus abnormality – not even to save a woman’s life in immediate risk. Honduras and Guatemala share similar legislations although emergency abortion – to save the mother’s life – is permitted. The effects of this criminalisation are causing widespread human rights violations and reflect systemic discrimination against women in the region. Women and girls are forced to continue with pregnancies which endanger them and can be left to die from an ectopic pregnancy or obstetric emergency, denied life-saving treatment whilst pregnant if it could provoke a miscarriage and reluctant to seek medical help after a miscarriage in case they are accused of procuring an abortion.  3.      United Nations human rights experts  Juan E. Mendez – UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Rashida Manjoo – UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences, Anand Grover – UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health, and Kamala Chandrakirana – chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. For further information see: Right to Health: Torture: Violence against women: Discrimination against women: UN Human Right – El Salvador:

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