Critically ill woman faces jail time if she goes forward with lifesaving abortion

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In addition to her health complications, doctors have confirmed that the fetus has anencephaly and is nonviable


According to a report from Amnesty International, a seriously ill and pregnant El Salvadorian woman may face jail time if she goes forward with a lifesaving and medically recommended abortion. Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador.

The 22-year-old mother of one, identified only as Beatriz, is four-and-a-half months pregnant, but her doctors have confirmed that the fetus has anencephaly (developing without a brain and certain parts of the skull) and that the pregnancy is nonviable. In addition to the fetal diagnosis, Beatriz is experiencing critical health complications related to her lupus and kidney disease.

The hospital treating Beatriz requested legal permission to perform the abortion more than a month ago, but authorities have still not agreed to let them proceed. Now, if government policy and religious ideology interfering with a woman’s right to access abortion care or a doctor’s ability to exercise medical judgment and save a woman’s life sounds familiar, it should.

Written By: Katie McDonough
continue to source article at salon.com

36 COMMENTS

    • I agree, as appalling and upsetting as the case is it will be an interesting opportunity to see how Francis responds to something like this. In reply to #1 by Virgin Mary:

      I would like to hear the Pope’s views on this.

    • I was annoyed that no other Catholics have shown up to respond to the complete misinformation about our beliefs shown in these comments, so I made an account just to respond to this. Since the fetus in question has no brain, and can never have a brain, it is dead tissue. Removing it is not an abortion.

      I’m going to say that again, to make sure everyone understands. There is no life in this woman’s womb. She is not bearing a child. She will not be giving birth. A life-saving procedure to remove the effects of the failed pregnancy is not an abortion, because nothing is being aborted. That is the catholic teaching on this subject.

      This is a total non-issue to Catholics and it’s both funny and sad to me to see everyone on another catholic-bashing spree based on complete ignorance. But it’s mostly just sad.

      • In reply to #16 by Queso:

        I was annoyed that no other Catholics have shown up to respond to the complete misinformation about our beliefs shown in these comments, so I made an account just to respond to this. Since the fetus in question has no brain, and can never have a brain, it is dead tissue. Removing it is not an abortion.

        I’m going to say that again, to make sure everyone understands. There is no life in this woman’s womb. She is not bearing a child. She will not be giving birth. A life-saving procedure to remove the effects of the failed pregnancy is not an abortion, because nothing is being aborted. That is the catholic teaching on this subject.

        This is a total non-issue to Catholics and it’s both funny and sad to me to see everyone on another catholic-bashing spree based on complete ignorance. But it’s mostly just sad.

        If this was the case, then she wouldn’t be facing jail time. It would be seen as you describe. However, this is part of the dogma that life begins at conception and that there is life even when it is artificially maintained. In this case, by the woman’s own body. Your opinion that there is no life in this woman’s body may well be the hospital’s opinion which is why they have requested the operation. The fact that there has been no response from the authorities shows there is a reluctance to examine this.
        You cannot say that this is misinformation, that is your opinion to stated given facts. The facts stand: a woman who is deemed to be pregnant with a non-viable fetus requires an abortion which is illegal in her country of residence. This has all the same echoes of a Western, European religious country where a woman died because of religious sentiment that held the right of the ‘child’ held more status that the right of the woman.
        Religion does do harm: cases like these illustrate this point.

      • Salvadoran here ;-) I am as sad as you are or may be more. Excuse my English beforehand. As a salvadoran and atheist I can shed light on the issue as far as the church goes. In El Salvador we are indoctrinated to hate ourselves not only because we are of Native American decent but also because in church is such a profitable business. Not only is the church responsible for the death of almost all indigenous people in E.S.
        We have literally Christian political parties. We have oligarchs that own a good part of the country not to mention that they are the owner of mega churches too. The Jesuit have raped the country from the time of Alvarado to this day. The constitution calls for separation of church and state, but each time there is an issue of importance the Catholic Church has something to say about it publicly. We have had Calvinist and tyrant regimes (Can’t tell the difference). This is the aftermath of the kind of trash we were subjected to. In my country on Sunday you will see the streets empty and the churches packed it has turned to a enterprise literally there is no hiding it anymore. Christians can press charges on you if they feel like you offended their belief is in the constitution. But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz. If you feel sad right now you should have read the comments on the note in the country’s paper your tears would’ve dried out already. Did I mention that every offensive comment had something to say about their imaginary friend?
        I wish I could disclose all I’ve lived in that country that had one the bloodiest civil wars in Latin America. And yes we are living proof of the damage this cancer does. I can’t edit this comment (too lazy) so Disculpen. In reply to #16 by Queso:

        I was annoyed that no other Catholics have shown up to respond to the complete misinformation about our beliefs shown in these comments, so I made an account just to respond to this. Since the fetus in question has no brain, and can never have a brain, it is dead tissue. Removing it is not an abortion.

        I’m going to say that again, to make sure everyone understands. There is no life in this woman’s womb. She is not bearing a child. She will not be giving birth. A life-saving procedure to remove the effects of the failed pregnancy is not an abortion, because nothing is being aborted. That is the catholic teaching on this subject.

        This is a total non-issue to Catholics and it’s both funny and sad to me to see everyone on another catholic-bashing spree based on complete ignorance. But it’s mostly just sad.

        • In reply to #19 by Hawkins child:

          But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz.

          Thanks for your message. I hope the El Salvadorean government honors its word to enable Beatriz to have the operation that she needs.

          More generally, my understanding of Catholic moral theology with regard to abortion permits such an operation where the fetus in nonviable, as in this case. The problem here seems to be that El Salvadorean law is even stricter concerning abortion than the Catholic church!

          • In reply to #25 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #19 by Hawkins child:

            But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz.

            Thanks for your message. I hope the El Salvadorean government honors its word to enable Beatriz to have the operation that she needs.

            More generally, my understanding of Catholic moral theology with regard to abortion permits such an operation where the fetus in nonviable, as in this case. The problem here seems to be that El Salvadorean law is even stricter concerning abortion than the Catholic church!

            I would like to know since when, has that been the church’s stance on this issue? As far as I know in El Salvador this has been like this since the 60′s. The constitution was reformed in the 80′s. We have almost the same constitution as the U.S.A. but because all the mega churches had something to say. The leftist party had to give them something and is no secret over there that that’s what happen. In reply to #25 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #19 by Hawkins child:

            But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz.

            Thanks for your message. I hope the El Salvadorean government honors its word to enable Beatriz to have the operation that she needs.

            Since when has that been the church stance on this issue? In E.S. is no secret that it is because of the religious population that that clause was never reformed in the constitution. After the civil war the constitution is pretty much a copy of the U.S. constitution but this particular clause has not been touched because politics. I mean the country name means “The Saviour” and all the fanatics dream of a Christian nation. A few years back a nut lider of a sect visited E.S. and protested in front of the Catholic Church. They were arrested and deported, not to mention that the Christians in parliament calling out for witch hunt and I mean literally. Do not come tell me about the Catholics stance on this. The bishop in E.S. is quick to open his big mouth about political issues but when is his people that are calling this woman a coward, slut, and why would she get pregnant if she knew she was so sick? Do not tell me what their stance is because is obvious not what you mention. I have lived with those Catholics and believe me we know is them fighting to kill this woman. But killing the poor and oppressed is just as its always been in E.S.
            The government had a chance to change that law a while back when a woman was arrested for miscarriage. And guess who were the ones outside of the national palace protesting for that not to be messed with? Is funny too because we all know how rotten the religious are in E.S.
            Foundations like “Si a la vida” commanded by the family members of politicians would disagree with what you stated. Is not the government is the retro gradation imposed by religious values. The government don’t wanna piss off the religious because they want toss votes and care not to murder or jail females. I could go on all day sweetheart. What is worst the bishop hasn’t said anything about the issue I wonder why? Oh. Wait I know because they fund the nuts that call out for murder just because you got horny. Gracias ^_^ > More generally, my understanding of Catholic moral theology with regard to abortion permits such an operation where the fetus in nonviable, as in this case. The problem here seems to be that El Salvadorean law is even stricter concerning abortion than the Catholic church!

          • In reply to #27 by Hawkins child:

            In reply to #25 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #19 by Hawkins child:

            But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz.

            Thanks for your message. I hope the El Salvadorean government honors its word to enable Beatriz to have the operation that she needs.

            More generally, my understanding of Catholic moral theology with regard to abortion permits such an operation where the fetus in nonviable, as in this case. The problem here seems to be that El Salvadorean law is even stricter concerning abortion than the Catholic church!

            I would like to know since when, has that been the church’s stance on this issue?

            On second thoughts, I may be wrong about this particular case, since the precise medical details are not clear. What I can say in response to your question is to refer, as the Catholic Encyclopaedia does (under the heading “Abortion”), to the decree of the Holy Office of 28 May 1884, wherein is stated that “it cannot be safely taught in Catholic schools that it is lawful to perform . . . any surgical operation which is directly destructive of the life of the fetus or the mother.” This statement gives a precise application of the belief held by the Catholic Church since antiquity, in particular since Gregory of Nyssa (died after 386 CE), who, according the Catholic Encyclopaedia, advocated the view that “the same life principle quickens the organism from the first moment of its individual existence until its death.” This life principle was believed to be something immaterial and immortal which endowed the embryo even at the earliest stages of its existence with the same human dignity as that of its mother.

            However, the 28 May 1884 statement, while it reiterates the equality of status of both fetus and mother, introduces another important term, ‘direct’, in the matter of applying the Church’s age-old stance on abortion. A surgical operation is forbidden that is directly destructive of either fetus or mother. Under certain conditions, set out in the Catholic Encyclopaedia article, the Church permits surgical operations on the mother for her benefit, which may result in unwanted, regretted and unavoidable harm or even death to the fetus. The conditions required to be met are four:

             • That we do not wish the evil effects, but make all reasonable efforts to avoid them;
             • That the immediate effect be good in itself;
             • That the evil is not made a means to obtain the good effect;
             • The the good effect be as important at least as the evil effect.
            

            If Catholic theology defines humanity in terms of an immaterial soul (life principle), then the absence of a brain does not suffice to relegate the fetus that Beatriz is carrying to a subhuman status and would therefore not be grounds for permitting an abortion. The only grounds for an abortion in this case, as in any other case according to Catholic teaching, would be a necessary operation or treatment applied to the mother to save her life that was not a direct assault on the life of the fetus but nevertheless would result in its death. More precise information about the medical case would be needed to decide on that.

          • In reply to #29 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #27 by Hawkins child:

            In reply to #25 by Cairsley:

            In reply to #19 by Hawkins child:

            But since I last read the news the government has agreed to save Beatriz.

            Thanks for your message. I hope the El Salvadorean government honors its word to enable Beatriz to have the operation that she needs.

            More generally, my understanding of Catholic moral theology with regard to abortion permits such an operation where the fetus in nonviable, as in this case. The problem here seems to be that El Salvadorean law is even stricter concerning abortion than the Catholic church!

            I would like to know since when, has that been the church’s stance on this issue?

            On second thoughts, I may be wrong about this particular case, since the precise medical details are not clear. What I can say in response to your question is to refer, as the Catholic Encyclopaedia does (under the heading “Abortion”), to the decree of the Holy Office of 28 May 1884, wherein is stated that “it cannot be safely taught in Catholic schools that it is lawful to perform . . . any surgical operation which is directly destructive of the life of the fetus or the mother.” This statement gives a precise application of the belief held by the Catholic Church since antiquity, in particular since Gregory of Nyssa (died after 386 CE), who, according the Catholic Encyclopaedia, advocated the view that “the same life principle quickens the organism from the first moment of its individual existence until its death.” This life principle was believed to be something immaterial and immortal which endowed the embryo even at the earliest stages of its existence with the same human dignity as that of its mother.

            However, the 28 May 1884 statement, while it reiterates the equality of status of both fetus and mother, introduces another important term, ‘direct’, in the matter of applying the Church’s age-old stance on abortion. A surgical operation is forbidden that is directly destructive of either fetus or mother. Under certain conditions, set out in the Catholic Encyclopaedia article, the Church permits surgical operations on the mother for her benefit, which may result in unwanted, regretted and unavoidable harm or even death to the fetus. The conditions required to be met are four:

            • That we do not wish the evil effects, but make all reasonable efforts to avoid them;
            • That the immediate effect be good in itself;
            • That the evil is not made a means to obtain the good effect;
            • The the good effect be as important at least as the evil effect.

            If Catholic theology defines humanity in terms of an immaterial soul (life principle), then the absence of a brain does not suffice to relegate the fetus that Beatriz is carrying to a subhuman status and would therefore not be grounds for permitting an abortion. The only grounds for an abortion in this case, as in any other case according to Catholic teaching, would be a necessary operation or treatment applied to the mother to save her life that was not a direct assault on the life of the fetus but nevertheless would result in its death. More precise information about the medical case would be needed to decide on that.

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22204377

            In that case, the Irish case linked above needs serious attention, the doctors should be tried in a court of law for going further than their religion demands.

            However, there is a huge caveat in what you have quoted as being the case in Catholic belief – that it is 120 years old, and I suspect that the vast majority of those who call themselves Catholics nowadays would not recognise that statement as being representative of what they believe….

            The fact of the matter is, under religious doctrine which, you assert, affords equality of rights to a fetus as to the mother, is nowadays treated as giving such a fetus more rights than the mother. There is no basis under which we can afford unborn babies more rights than infants, or their mothers. When there is serious risk of harm to a patient and religion comes to the fore, I believe that where mortality can be avoided but isn’t due to religious belief then said doctor should be struck off for being unfit to practise.

          • In reply to #30 by DancingAtheist545:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22204377

            In that case, the Irish case linked above needs serious attention, the doctors should be tried in a court of law for going further than their religion demands.

            If, in the Irish case you cite, the only way to save the mother was to abort the fetus, then the Catholic Church would forbid the abortion, on the grounds that the fetus and its mother are both human individuals with equal rights to life and that to act directly to kill either of them would be immoral. The Church is also using here the moral principle that the end does not justify the means, so aborting the fetus to save the mother’s life is prohibited. It seems, then, that the Irish doctors involved in that case were following the guidelines of their religion.

            However, there is a huge caveat in what you have quoted as being the case in Catholic belief – that it is 120 years old, and I suspect that the vast majority of those who call themselves Catholics nowadays would not recognise that statement as being representative of what they believe….

            It is so long since I last darkened the doorway of a Catholic church that I would not hazard even a guess at what Catholics who have remained in the Church during the last twenty years of reactionary policies now think about this topic at ground level.

            The fact of the matter is, under religious doctrine which, you assert, affords equality of rights to a fetus as to the mother, is nowadays treated as giving such a fetus more rights than the mother. There is no basis under which we can afford unborn babies more rights than infants, or their mothers. When there is serious risk of harm to a patient and religion comes to the fore, I believe that where mortality can be avoided but isn’t due to religious belief then said doctor should be struck off for being unfit to practise.

            I am in total agreement with you on this, but it is good to understand the precise thinking behind the Catholic Church’s decisions on this issue. The basic problem with it is that it rests on the belief that one is human in virtue of being animated by an immaterial, immortal soul from the moment of conception. Discard this belief, and the cases discussed here look very different. In particular, aborting a nonviable fetus to save the mother’s life is no longer a case of performing an immoral act of murder for this good purpose. But I think the Catholic Church’s very raison d’être would be jettisoned if it discarded the belief in the immortal soul that required its ministrations for eternal salvation, so we should not expect any improvement in its position on abortion any time soon. It may be more sensible to look forward to the abolition of the Church.

      • In reply to #16 by Queso:

        This is a total non-issue to Catholics and it’s both funny and sad to me to see everyone on another catholic-bashing spree based on complete ignorance. But it’s mostly just sad.

        Apparently some Catholics disagree with you, unless you are saying that true Catholics can see that this isn’t a real abortion.

        So far, the Vatican has gone as far as excommunicating doctors and patients of life-saving abortive procedures in the recent past (and not the rapist who fathered the fetus). I would very much like to hear your explanation regarding God’s perfect justice in such cases.

        Francis has already demonstrated that he’s a hard-liner, and has made it clear that marginalizing gays and denying women health services take a greater priority than fighting world poverty. Again, feel free to explain God’s divine wisdom in this.

    • In reply to #1 by Virgin Mary:

      I would like to hear the Pope’s views on this.
      The Pope? Who is he to decide on another person’s life? It is not up anybody, but up to the young woman that has her life in the line because of a sick child inside,

      • In reply to #20 by michel.m.gonzalez.1:

        The Pope? Who is he to decide on another person’s life? It is not up anybody, but up to the young woman that has her life in the line because of a sick child inside,

        ha.

  1. Another “Medical misadventure” looms. If you’re a woman in El Salvador/Eire be afraid. If you’re pregnant then be very afraid. If you develop complications then get the hell out!

  2. Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador.

    UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. A whole nation willing to accept this obvious nonsense, and unspeakable cruelty. Do people still need convincing that religion poisons the mind?

    • In reply to #6 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador.UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. A whole nation willing to accept this obvious nonsense, and unspeakable cruelty. Do people still need convincing that religion poisons the mind?

      The fetus has no brain, no skull and as such cannot really be considered living. In addition, as in all cases where the mothers life is in danger, the fetus will die as her health deteriorates anyway.

      So how is it abortion if not truly living, and not the removal of a malignant growth? And how is risking the mothers death which results anyway in the inevitable death of the fetus not abortion by default? The logic is missing.

    • In reply to #6 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador.

      UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. A whole nation willing to accept this obvious nonsense, and unspeakable cruelty. Do people still need convincing that religion poisons the mind?

      Off topic, but where did these 56 guests come from, who pressed like?? I’m witnessing a minor miracle!

    • In reply to #7 by Perfect Tommy:

      Just the fact alone that the fetus HAS NO BRAIN should be obvious enough that the abortion should be done.

      Are people this stupid?

      Apparently so. The ruling elite there have not let the total absence of brains impede them in any way.

  3. Generally I am anti-abortion. From the details given here, I am wholly in favour of this woman having an abortion. What the hell the bloody priests think is of pissquick importance. What they say is a matter of life and death for humans. They would rather a real person died as in Ireland recently, than allow the removal of unviable biological material, from an otherwise healthy female.

    The RCC are real BASTARDS !

    Prove me wrong Holy Jo !

  4. What’s The pope think? :D

    Follow the “sounds familiar” link to read “Leaked hospital report includes dark details of Savita Halappanavar’s death” at Ireland’s Galway University Hospital. Galway is in the Republic of Ireland, ~88% Catholic. Last I checked, Rome holds the leash and Ireland wears the collar. If you can find any statements from the Catholic church in Ireland or Rome about this outrageous affair, please post it here. That and the laws of the ROI ought to give good clue to their thinking.

    El Salvador is ~53% catholic and is awaiting the canonization of the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero.

  5. Unspeakably brutal cruelty on the part of the Church, which preaches goodness, forgiveness and love – the biggest bunch of hypocrites on the planet! Unthinking, unfeeling, totally inhumane, the whole bunch detestable and damnable. There aren’t enough hideous words in a dictionary to describe them. The whole world should be outraged.

    • In reply to #13 by Nitya:

      What an opportunity for the pope! He could mercifully intervene, and be hailed for his wisdom and benevolence. Do you think it will happen?
      Why the Pope again? The leader of child molesters shouldn’t have the right to talk in this kind of situations.

  6. In reply to #33 by Os:

    Queso. You are a piece of excrement. To rank you as stupid, hateful, selfish and arrogant would be far to generous.

    Os… you disagree with Queso and so do I. I also think that he is incorrect in his exposition of Catholic teaching on abortion. I am well aware of the tendentiousness and even mendacity of the arguments of the church, and in this country of the Iona Institute. But Queso’s remarks seem to reflect sincerely held beliefs, and resorting to expletive language as you do, does nothing to further our arguments, and confirms the faith community in their beliefs about atheists. Show fellow humans respect.

  7. In a lot of ways, I totally agree with you: the only fact that I cannot agree with you is that the case I initially linked to was one where the fetus still had a heartbeat on because the mother’s body was acting as a form of life support.

    Both of these cases revolved around non-viable fetuses…and despite clear medical facts to the extent of the issue within the ‘pregnancy’ having come to a natural end, the religion and it’s mendacious effect of laws have meant that women have been put in mortal peril and in one of those cases actually died despite not being part of the particular religion.

    Most Catholics would not dispute the ‘life begins at conception’ argument though it is merely a ball of cells that has the potential to be human life; nature is the most effective abortionist due to the amount of failed pregnancies, so one yet one more level the religious doctrine is at odds with the world which we can rationally perceive and demonstrate objectively.

  8. The culprit is the Catholic church.

    Salvadorans are mostly Roman Catholics (52.6%), while Protestantism represents 27.6% of the population.

    These things remind me of the cruel things the Nazis and South American dictators did. It is hard to believe modern day people could be so mindlessly sadistic.

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