New amicus curiae brief before the I/A Court H.R.
The Latin American Team of Justice and Gender (ELA) and Women Enabled International (WEI) submit an amicus curiae brief * on the case Beatriz vs. El Salvador before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.). The brief stresses that States have an obligation to ensure the right of women and other persons with and without disabilities to access legal, safe and quality abortion services, in particular when pregnancy poses a risk to their life and health, as was the case with Beatriz.
About the case
In 2013, Beatriz, a young woman from El Salvador, was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy with fetal anencephaly, which implied the extrauterine unviability of the fetus. Beatriz lived in extreme poverty and, at age 20, she had been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus nephropathy, and rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the fact that Beatriz’s medical team requested the termination of the pregnancy to safeguard her life, the request was rejected by the authorities of the health center, which forced Beatriz to request the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice to order them to carry out the termination of the pregnancy. More than 40 days later, the Constitutional Chamber rejected her request on the grounds that in El Salvador there is an absolute impediment to the authorization of interruptions of pregnancies, since the Constitution protects human life from conception. In line with this rule, the Criminal Code of El Salvador establishes that the voluntary termination of pregnancy is a crime in all situations.
Given the delay of the Constitutional Chamber in resolving the petition and the negative impact that this situation had on her health, Beatriz appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the I/A Court H.R. It was finally this court that ordered the Salvadoran State to take the necessary measures to protect Beatriz’s life, health and integrity. Given the advanced state of Beatrice’s pregnancy, a caesarean section was performed. The new born died five hours later.
In this context, in November 2013, several human rights organizations filed a lawsuit before the IACHR against the State of El Salvador, alleging its international responsibility for the human rights violations of Beatriz and her family. Beatriz’s case finally reached the I/A Court in January 2022.
About the amicus curiae brief
*An amicus curiae (“friend of the court”, in Latin) is a person or organization that has a strong interest in the issues brought up in a case to which they are not a party. The amicus curiae may submit a written report setting forth its interpretation of the law or its arguments relating to the facts under consideration by the Court.
You can learn more about amicus curiae briefs and how interact with the Inter-American human rights system here.
In their amicus curiae brief, ELA and WEI highlight that:
● Women and other persons with and without disabilities have the right to access legal, safe and quality abortion services, particularly when pregnancy poses a risk to their life and health.
● Beatriz’s case shows that the Salvadoran State is failing in its obligation to take the appropriate measures to guarantee access to legal, safe and quality abortion services for women and other persons with and without disabilities in the light of the regulations of the inter-American human rights system and human rights treaties of the United Nations;
● The absolute criminalization of abortion – such as that existing in El Salvador – harms the right of women and other persons with the capacity to become pregnant with and without disabilities, and constitutes a form of gender-based violence. In some circumstances it may also constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
● States, including El Salvador, should take effective measures to eliminate stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities without affecting the fundamental human rights of women and other persons with the capacity to become pregnant and, in particular, without impeding their access to legal, safe and quality abortion services.