El Salvador

El Salvador court denies abortion despite threat to woman's life

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 May, 2013, 5:03am


El Salvador's Supreme Court has ruled against allowing a woman suffering from kidney failure and lupus to terminate a pregnancy in which the fetus is given no chance of surviving.

The Central American country's laws prohibit all abortions, even when a woman's health is at risk. At present, the woman and any doctor who terminated her pregnancy would face arrest and criminal charges.

The judges voted 4-to-1 on Wednesday to reject the appeal by the woman's lawyers, who argued that continuing with the pregnancy puts her life at risk.

The court said tests on the woman, who is 26 weeks pregnant, by the government-run Institute of Legal Medicine found her diseases were under control. But the woman, a 22-year-old mother of one, is described as in fragile health. She has lupus, a chronic immune disorder and kidney failure. Medical experts have said the pregnancy is a threat to her health.

Tests indicated the fetus is developing with only a brain stem, a condition known as anencephaly. Most babies born with anencephaly live only a few days.

A medical committee at the maternity hospital where the woman has been treated said the baby would not survive and recommended terminating the pregnancy, saying the woman's health "will certainly get worse as the pregnancy advances".

But El Salvador's attorney general for human rights, Oscar Luna, said: "What should prevail above all are human rights - in this case, the right to life."