A very sad case,
Salvadoran Court Denies Abortion to Ailing Woman
El Salvador’s highest court on Wednesday denied an appeal from a woman with a high-risk pregnancy to be allowed to undergo an abortion, upholding the country’s strict law banning abortion under any circumstances.
A Salvadoran at Risk Tests Abortion Law (May 29, 2013)
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Beatriz, a 22-year-old woman who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her identity, has lupus and related complications that doctors say will get worse as the pregnancy, which is in its 26th week, continues, possibly leading to serious illness or even death.
Her fetus, which has anencephaly, a severe birth defect in which parts of the brain and skull are missing, has almost no chance of surviving after birth, leading her doctors to urge an abortion to protect Beatriz’s health before it deteriorates further.
We could discuss whether the court in El Salvador is “misogynistic,” but I would like to direct discussion toward how we — especially Americans — think about access to late-term abortion. Let’s say Woman A has a health problem (like lupus) that makes pregnancy risky, but she chooses to go forward with the pregnancy, because she wants a child. Later, past the point of viability, a serious birth defect becomes apparent, and she assesses the risk differently. She wants to abort because of a combination of the health risk and the low value she puts on the specific unborn child she knows she is carrying. Woman B has no health problem, but she finds out, equally late in a pregnancy, that her child has the same birth defect. There are 3 moral positions available: 1. Neither woman should be permitted to have an abortion, 2. Both women should be permitted to have an abortion, and 3. Woman A must be permitted to have an abortion, but Woman B must be forbidden.
I think position #3 is hard to understand and suspect that those who are arguing for position #3 are setting up the argument for position #2. It seems that the supposed appeal of Beatriz’s case is that her baby is relatively worthless, but if we are willing to mark some severely disabled human beings as low value, why shouldn’t any woman be able to avoid the pains of late pregnancy and childbirth? That is, we move toward position #2. But if you commit to the right to life and say — like the right-to-life spokesperson at the link — that you must protect “all human beings however small, poor, vulnerable or defenseless,” don’t you have to go to position #1, at least until the point where the medical procedure to be performed is for the precise end of saving the woman’s life and not aimed at destroying the child?
Read her commenters’ discussion.