Justice for Beatriz: A Woman Denied a Needed Abortion

| Reproaction

By: Laila Salaam

On Thursday, March 23, Reproaction joined Fòs Feminista and global abortion rights activists at the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the Organization of American States (OAS) to demonstrate on behalf of Beatriz, a young woman from El Salvador who was denied the abortion she needed because of laws criminalizing abortion. [1] The demonstration included a lively information sharing session about Beatriz and her story, along with chants in both English and Spanish to support Beatriz. This action was particularly important as Beatriz’s case is currently being argued before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. A positive resolution to this case could aid Salvadorian women and women throughout Latin America in achieving bodily autonomy and highlight the fatal consequences of El Salvador’s total abortion ban. [2]

Beatriz was a young woman from a rural area in El Salvador, and in 2013 she was informed that she was 11 weeks pregnant. At the time, she was living in extreme poverty and battling lupus. She wished to end her pregnancy because of her situation, the risk of medical complications, and recommendations from doctors who informed her that the fetus would not survive outside of the womb. She fought valiantly against the state to terminate a pregnancy that put her livelihood at risk, and sadly failed, putting her health and life at risk. Ultimately Beatriz was forced to continue her pregnancy until 26 weeks, when she was given a C-section. Her baby then lived for five hours. [1, 5] Beatriz is now deceased following a motorcycle accident in 2017.

Unfortunately, El Salvador has a long history of criminalization of abortion. In 1997, El Salvador’s Penal Code was reformed to establish the prohibition of abortion. Ever since that reform abortion has been fully criminalized in all circumstances and can be punished with up to eight years in prison making legal abortion virtually impossible to access in El Salvador. [3] El Salvador remains one of the last countries on earth to maintain a total abortion ban, in part upheld by buckets of funding support from a Virginia-based non-profit called Human Life International that exports its misogyny and patriarchal control worldwide. [1, 4] What happened to Beatriz is a human rights travesty, and it’s happening around the world as well as at home. She is not alone in her struggle to access an abortion, if you wish to support her and other women in El Salvador, sign the petition here.

At Reproaction we are staunchly fighting against criminalization in all aspects of pregnancy. We are honored to work with partner organizations to uplift the cases of women around the world who have been impacted by abortion criminalization.

You can help us continue to fight abortion criminalization by participating in upcoming events, joining our email list, and following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. As always, your donations help us advance reproductive justice, so give what you can if you can!


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