Special Rapporteur on Torture and other UN experts urge El Salvador to reconsider its abortion policies

On June 4, 2013, the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, along with UN experts on the right to health, and violence and discrimination against women, issued a joint statement urging El Salvador to reconsider its abortion legislation and current practices in the country.

In the joint statement, the UN experts expressed their concerns over the 22 year old woman whose petition to undergo a therapeutic abortion was denied in a recent El Salvadorian Supreme Court decision. On May 28, 2013, the El Salvadorian Supreme Court ruled, by a vote decision of four to one, to deny a writ of rights, “amparo,” to Beatriz (name withdrawn to protect her identity) to undergo a therapeutic abortion, despite the probability that the fetus could have died before or shortly after birth due to the brain condition, as proved to be the case a few days later on June 3.

The UN experts strongly condemned the ruling rejecting a young woman’s request to terminate a life-threatening pregnancy. “This Court ruling exposed the physical and mental health of Beatriz to serious risk, which could eventually threaten her life,” said UN experts Anand Grover, Juan E. Méndez, Kamala Chandrakirana and Rashida Manjoo.

“The court’s decision is in clear contravention of El Salvador’s human rights obligations, including article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognizes the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” they warned, “and article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women to which El Salvador is party.”

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