In a unanimous vote, the Inter-American Tribunal recognizes that her health, life, and personal integrity, both physical and mental, and life are in a situation of extreme seriousness and urgency of suffering irreparable damage.
San Salvador and San José, May 30th, 2013. In a historic decision, today the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Court), the highest tribunal regarding human rights on the American continent, required the Salvadoran State to take all the medical measures necessary to ensure, in an urgent manner, the due protection of the right to life and personal integrity of Beatriz, which means interrupting her pregnancy in accordance with the recommendations of her doctors.
Beatriz, a 22-year-old Salvadoran woman, who suffers from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus aggravated with lupus nephritis and rheumatoid arthritis, is the mother of a 14-month-old boy and is currently 26 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic fetus—a fetus without a brain—which is a major anomaly incompatible with life outside the womb.
On April 29, 2013, after a petition by the Feminist Collective for Local Development of El Salvador (Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local de El Salvador), the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethic, and Eugenic Abortion of El Salvador (Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugenésico de El Salvador), and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Precautionary Measures in favor of Beatriz and required that the Salvadoran State “implement the treatment recommended by the Medical Committee of the National Hospital Specialized in Maternity “Dr. Raúl Arguello Escalón”, with the purpose of safeguarding the life, personal integrity, and health of Beatriz. Nonetheless, the State did not abide by the IACHR’s decision, and because of that, the IACHR requested the intervention of the Inter-American Court.
In its resolution, the Inter-American Court considered that Beatriz’s situation is one of extreme seriousness and urgency and that there exists a risk of irreparable harm to her rights to life and personal integrity, not only physical but also mental.
“The resolution dictated by the Court is a historic milestone in the protection of the rights of women on the continent. Through its decision, the Court establishes the urgency to apply the necessary measures to immediately protect women who find themselves in serious health problems and require a therapeutic abortion”, signaled Marcia Aguiluz, Program Director for Central America and Mexico for CEJIL.
The Court’s resolution takes into account the judgment issued yesterday by the Constitutional Chamber of the Salvadoran Supreme Court, in which it rejected the amparo recourse (an action for the protection of constitutional rights or guarantees) filed by Beatriz’s lawyers, in order to allow the doctors at the hospital to be able to interrupt the pregnancy.
Nevertheless, the Inter-American Court signaled that in the scope of said decision, the Salvadoran State is obligated to “guarantee that the treating medical team has the corresponding protection to fully exercise its function according to the decisions that, based on medical science, said medical team should adopt.”
“We hope that the Salvadoran State immediately complies with the resolution of the Inter-American Court and proceeds to interrupt Beatriz’s pregnancy, in a way so that she can continue to live a full and safe life”, signaled Morena Herrera from the Feminist Collective.
When facing extremely serious and urgent situations, the Court can take the Provisional Measures that it deems pertinent, even though a case has not been presented before the Court. The resolutions of the Court are obligatory for each and all of the authorities of El Salvador, as a Member State of the Organization of American States (OAS) that has signed and ratified the American Convention on Human Rights and has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction.
Read the complete Court resolution in Spanish
Photograph CC Amnesty Mexico