The Supreme Court of El Salvador denied a seriously ill woman on Thursday the right to have an abortion, even though her fetus has almost no chance of survival.
Lawyers for the 22-year-old woman, being referred to as "Beatriz," had argued that continuing with the pregnancy would put her life at risk, as she is in fragile health and suffers from lupus and kidney failure.
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All abortions are illegal in El Salvador, no matter what the circumstances. The constitution protects the right to life "from the moment of conception."
Three sonograms have confirmed that Beatriz's 26-week-old fetus is developing without a complete brain and skull, a condition called anencephaly. The majority of babies born with the condition die before or shortly after birth.
"I'm not seriously ill, but I feel bad, because I get really tired and I'm short of breath … I'd like them to interrupt the pregnancy now," she said in an interview last month. "I'd like people to respect my decision. I want to tell them I'd feel better if I was allowed to have an interruption."
Beatriz also recorded a video plea directed at the president. The health ministry has backed her appeal, along with the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other pro-choice groups.
"I don't want to do it but I know the child won't live and I think it is the only way to save my life," the mother of one says in Spanish in the video.
Abortion laws are very strict in Latin America, although Brazil, Argentina and Colombia have relaxed their rules to allow women in the first trimester to abort in cases of incest, rape or danger to the mother's health.