Lifestyle & Belief

Abortion row rocks El Salvador (PHOTOS)

LIMA, Peru — El Salvadoran authorities appear to have reached a compromise in an abortion row that has rocked the heavily Catholic Central American nation.

It started when a 22-year-old woman, known only as "Beatriz," requested a termination of her high-risk pregnancy on the grounds that her baby is developing without a complete brain, a condition known as anencephaly that usually results in the child's death soon after birth.

Beatriz's lawyers contend that their client, who is suffering from lupus and kidney failure, is at risk by continuing to carry the fetus.

But El Salvador's strict laws do not allow abortions under any circumstances, including even in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s life.

That prompted the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, to wade into the row, and issue a non-binding resolution that El Salvador must allow doctors to perform the abortion. It has set a deadline of June 8.

"The rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those of the unborn child," El Salvador's court said in its decision on Wednesday, arguing that "the constitution protects human life from the point of conception."

The judges also argued that Beatriz's physical and psychological tests showed her sickness was "under control" and that she would be able to continue with the pregnancy.

More from GlobalPost: El Salvador's strict abortion laws a 'form of torture,' say rights groups

However, many disagree with the court's decision. 

“Every day that goes by, she is even more at risk,” said Sara Garcia, a member of El Salvador’s Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abortions, told GlobalPost. “This is a form of torture that she is going through.”

But now Beatriz has told reporters that her seven-month pregnancy will come to an end next week after it was agreed she could have a caesarean section.

Given her baby’s condition, he is not expected to survive once out of the womb.

“I feel very good because next week they will do it [the caesarean] … I think everything will be OK,” Beatriz told Reuters.

Nevertheless, more such cases are likely to make the news in El Salvador and the many other Latin American nations while abortion continues to be banned, often for even the most extreme cases such as that of Beatriz.