- "I want to live": Beatriz's voice was heard at the IACHR Court.
The representative organizations that have accompanied Beatriz's family and brought her case before the Inter-American Human Rights System feel positive and hopeful after the public hearing held before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on March 22 and 23 in Costa Rica.
For the IACHR Court, it was evident that Beatriz's rights to life, integrity and health, to private and family life, including her right to autonomy and access to justice and judicial guarantees, among others, were violated.
By means of testimony, medical expertise and documentary evidence, it was demonstrated that not having performed the termination of the pregnancy at the time it was medically recommended, aggravated the situation of risk to Beatriz's life, integrity and physical and mental health; this constituted a form of torture. This risk was based on her pre-existing illnesses, on the fact that in her first pregnancy she had suffered severe pre-eclampsia and on the fact that she was carrying an anencephalic fetus, incompatible with life outside the uterus.
The evidence of the trial is abundant and unquestionable. Beatriz did not receive the treatment unanimously recommended by her treating physicians at the beginning of her pregnancy because El Salvador does not allow abortion under any circumstances. From the voice of her mother, her doctor and herself, we heard the fear they had of the possibility of being criminalized. This fear was added to the fear expressed by Beatriz of the possibility of dying while waiting for the procedure to be performed.
Ten years later, this unjust and discriminatory prohibition continues to threaten the will, autonomy, health and lives of women in El Salvador, particularly those who are most vulnerable: young women and those living in poverty.
Throughout the two-day hearing, the Court received sufficient arguments to recognize that the absolute criminalization of abortion is contrary to the obligation to protect rights and that access to abortion in cases such as the one mentioned is a health service and, therefore, should be lawful.
As her mother firmly stated, the state failed Beatriz. Now, El Salvador has the opportunity to repair the damage to a family that has been waiting ten years for justice and has not ceased to repeat Beatriz's primary demand: that no other woman should have to suffer the cruelty, uncertainty and torture that she experienced.
Therefore, together with Beatriz's family, we trust that the Inter-American Court will recognize the responsibility of the Salvadoran State for violating Beatriz's rights and will order it to create the necessary legal conditions to ensure access to safe abortion services when the health, integrity and life of women are at risk.
It should also adopt comprehensive laws and public policies to guarantee that, in these cases, access to abortion is effective in practice and ensure that the professional training of health care providers guarantees women's reproductive rights.
We thank the women's and feminist organizations, as well as all the people in El Salvador, Costa Rica and around the world who joined the demands for justice for Beatriz and her family, supporting her cause and recognizing that justice in her case is reproductive justice for all.
We call for solidarity and hope while the judgment of the IACHR Court arrives, to sustain the calls for justice for Beatriz and we reaffirm our commitment to the family and to Beatriz, the woman who moved the world and reaffirmed our strength in the defense of women's human rights.
San José, Costa Rica. March 24, 2023