Doctors yesterday in El Salvador successfully delivered by cesarean section a baby girl with anencephaly, a condition with which babies develop without a brain or brainstem. The mother—dubbed “Beatriz” to protect her privacy— suffered from kidney failure and lupus, so giving birth was a high risk to her health. The baby died soon after birth, but Beatriz is fine.
The case became internationally known because El Salvador’s laws prohibit all abortions. Last month, Beatriz, who is 22 with a 1-year-old son, asked the country’s Supreme Court for an exemption. The court found that physical and psychological exams done on Beatriz by the government-run Institute of Legal Medicine found her diseases under control, so she could continue the pregnancy. The judges voted 4-to-1 to reject the appeal by Beatriz’s lawyers, who argued that continuing with the pregnancy put her life at risk.
Apologists for abortion were irate. Amnesty International called the court decision “cruel and callous.” The Inter-American Court on Human Rights argued that abortion was in order. The New York Times quoted Beatriz saying, “I don’t want to die. I want to be with my boy, taking care of him.” More than 170,000 people worldwide hashtagged #savebeatriz on Twitter. The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue, started a Change.org petition last Wednesday that asked Pope Francis, as Beatriz’s moral authority, to request that El Salvador president Mauricio Funes push for an abortion.
In response, doctors decided to induce delivery as soon as possible within the law. El Salvador’s Health Ministry said it would allow a C-section because the pregnancy was already at 26 weeks and the country’s strict abortion laws were no longer at play. She was in the hands of top-notch doctors, Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez said Thursday. Maternity Hospital doctors were ready to act immediately at any sign of danger to the mother. The result: Beatriz’s daughter was not killed, but died naturally. And Beatriz survived.
Human Life International (HLI) President Father Shenan J. Boquet told LifeNews.com: “Abortion always destroys a life. There is nothing life-saving about it, and it is not a medical treatment. Medical professionals who take the oath to ‘do no harm’ should never intentionally kill as a treatment. And that those with disabilities are once again being publicly labeled as unworthy of life is gravely concerning.”
Polls show that most Americans object to most abortions, but many worry about “health of the mother” considerations. But those four words open the door for millions of abortions, because it’s not hard to find pro-abortion doctors who will readily give that diagnosis—plus, when “health of the mother” includes psychological health, virtually anyone who wants an abortion can get one.
In El Salvador, Beatriz will not have a killing on her conscience, and her daughter was not harmed in the womb—the sanctuary where she did live.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.