Salvadoran Abortion Case Enters Final Phase at Inter-American Court

Apr 27, 2023
1:30 PM

Judge Verónica Gómez of Argentina listens to testimony in a recent case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. (Inter-American Court of Human Rights/Facebook)

By ROMAN GRESSIER, El Faro English

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — The regional precedent-setting Beatriz abortion case just entered the final phase of deliberation at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, after the window for written arguments closed on Monday.

Beatriz, a woman diagnosed with lupus, was denied an abortion of an anencephalic fetus in 2013 in El Salvador despite 15 doctors’ recommendations that she do so to protect her health. In late March the court held a two-day in-person hearing in which the attorneys for Beatriz’s family —she died in 2017— challenged El Salvador’s total ban.

“In a trial that featured doctors and international experts, Beatriz’s mother’s testimony linked pregnant women’s mental health and Salvadoran women’s economic situation to the debate over the country’s current terminal ban on abortions,” writes María Luz Nóchez for El Faro English.

Her chronicle of the hearings offers the most detailed account of the arguments on both sides, as well as the evidence of the Salvadoran government’s alliance with the international anti-abortion lobby.

“While it is true that those illnesses caused her tremendous suffering, which, of course, the state recognizes, that does not mean that she was at imminent risk of death,” said an Argentinian attorney representing the Salvadoran government. “It is not the state’s fault that (Beatriz) believed that she was going to die.”

“By the end of the second day of hearings, demonstrators in blue handkerchiefs —who had been praying in front of the Court building to ask for wisdom in the ruling— were already calling the judges corrupt and chanting for Costa Rica to withdraw from the court,” Nóchez writes.

A senior Salvadoran official told El Faro English in San José that the government would comment on the hearing after the period for final arguments. That has yet to happen, but one thing has occurred:

A 2013 tweet by President Nayib Bukele calling defenders of El Salvador’s total abortion ban in the Beatriz case “fanatics” was surprisingly deleted in the days following the March hearings.

The Wayback Machine has kept the receipts though.