Woman in El Salvador abortion dispute to have Caesarean section

Fri May 31, 2013 1:27pm EDT
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By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - The woman at the center of an abortion controversy in El Salvador will be granted a Caesarean section to end a pregnancy endangering her life and avoid breaking the law in the Central American nation.

El Salvador's health ministry said late on Thursday doctors attending the woman, who uses the name "Beatriz" to protect her identity, could perform a Caesarean to remove her malformed fetus and circumvent an abortion, which is illegal there.

The announcement came after a non-binding resolution by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that called on El Salvador act to save the life of the 22-year-old woman after it denied her an abortion.

El Salvador banned all types of abortion in 1999, but Beatriz's fetus has a serious condition known as anencephaly that results in only partial brain development. Such a fetus has little or no chance of surviving after birth.

Beatriz, who is 26 weeks pregnant, suffers from lupus and kidney problems, posing a grave threat to her own health.

"I feel good because next week they will perform (a Caesarean). Right now, the doctors have not told me anything, but I believe everything will work out fine," she said in a brief phone interview with Reuters late on Thursday.

The Caesarean section offers El Salvador a way out of the legal wrangle surrounding Beatriz's desire for an abortion.

This week El Salvador's Supreme Court rejected an appeal to grant one on the grounds it breached the constitution.

The case has drawn attention to abortion in El Salvador and attitudes towards the procedure in predominantly Roman Catholic Latin America. Some countries such as Colombia are relaxing their rules in order to permit abortions in the case of rape.

(Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Dave Graham and Vicki Allen)