The head of a support group has confirmed that doctors performed a C-section on a chronically ill Salvadoran woman who was denied an abortion despite her high risk pregnancy.
"What we have been told is that Beatriz is well. She had a girl but we are told it is very painful to see her," said Morena Herrera, the head of ACDATEE, a group that advocates access to legal abortion.
AdvertisementAbortion is illegal in El Salvador, even when the mother's life is at risk.
The 22-year-old woman, who has only been identified by a pseudonym, had requested an abortion to terminate the pregnancy because she suffers from lupus, which weakens the immune system, and the fetus she was carrying had anencephaly, a total or partial absence of the brain and the skull.
El Salvador's Supreme Court rejected the request, however, saying the rights of the mother could take precedence over those of the unborn child.
With the approval of Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez, doctors proceeded to deliver the baby prematurely by C-section Monday after 26 weeks of gestation.
"It is very clear at this time that the pregnancy intervention is not an abortion, it is an induced birth, which is something else," Rodriguez told a news conference last week.
The woman delivered at the capital's main maternity hospital. Health care officials had no immediate comment but were expected to hold a briefing Tuesday.
The government is keenly aware of the sensitive nature of the case, and a spokesperson from the office of President Mauricio Funes said only that in Beatriz's case, "everything transpired as the specialists had expected."
Claudia Handal, a spokeswoman for the conservative NGOs Family Network, told AFP the baby "has managed to survive" and that doctors were caring for the infant.
Beatriz's case garnered attention around the world with many women's organizations stunned at her situation. The mother of a one-year-old could have been jailed for 50 years had she had an abortion.
The Inter-American Human Rights Court in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Thursday had ordered El Salvador to act swiftly to protect the mother's life.
"Given the mother's health condition, this pregnancy is a risk to her life, a fact that merits extreme and urgent measures be taken to safeguard her health," the regional court had warned.
Amnesty International called the Salvadoran court's ruling shameful and discriminatory.
"Having put Beatriz through this long process, dragging out for seven weeks a decision that affects a person whose life is in immediate danger, is something cruel, inhumane and degrading," the rights watchdog said.
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