Ed. note: This is a guest post by Juliana Britto Schwartz. By day, Juliana is a student at University of California, Santa Cruz. By night, she is a Latina feminist blogger at Julianabritto.com, where she writes about reproductive health justice, immigration, and feminist movements in Latin America.
You all remember Savita Halappanavar, right? Well, the world is looking at another Savita right now, and the only thing standing between her and life is a group of Salvadoran politicians.
Savita Halappanavar was a pregnant woman living in Ireland who was denied a life-saving abortion because her doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat and were therefore required by law not to terminate the pregnancy. She died of blood poisoning while her husband watched.
“Beatriz” is 22 years old, 18 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (meaning that the fetus will not survive outside of the womb), and suffering life-threatening pregnancy complications. However, Beatriz lives in El Salvador, one of the rare countries in which abortion is illegal under all circumstances, including threat to the mother’s life.
A month ago, Beatriz’s hospital and the organization Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abortion petitioned the Supreme Court of El Salvador to provide her the abortion she needs. Though the government has agreed to consider it, they are delaying, and her condition has since worsened significantly.
If her doctors go on with the abortion, they could face up to 12 years of prison time. Beatriz could face anywhere between 2-50 years in prison, where she would join the 19 other women currently incarcerated in El Salvador for undergoing abortions.
As it stands, Beatriz has to decide between dying and leaving behind her baby son and husband, or going to jail.
And Beatriz isn’t the only one. Let’s not forget that there are so many other Beatrizes out there. There are the Beatrizes that don’t have the resources or connections to get hospital care, and instead undergo one of the 35,000 unsafe clandestine abortions that happen in El Salvador per year. There are the Beatrizes that live in the rest of Latin America, where only four countries have legalized elective abortions (Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay) and the rest restrict it to some variation of “in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health.”
And there are Beatrizes who live in the U.S., the women who live hours from their nearest abortion clinic, the women who can’t afford the costs of seeking out abortion care, or the women who live in states where their abortion rights are being threatened each day.
Beatriz might seem far away, but we are all Beatriz. Her fight is our fight.
So let’s do something.
How to help:
1. Sign the petition to the Supreme Court and President of El Salvador.
2. Send a tweet:
Help share! @CorteSupremaSV: Please #SaveBeatriz by granting her the life-saving abortion she needs! http://buff.ly/10QBB3C #latinafeminism
3. Help a Beatriz near you. Donate to an abortion fund, volunteer at your local clinic, protest anti-choice legislation, help a friend get birth control, talk to a young woman about contraception. Just DO it.