We are all Beatriz: Abortion rights in a life or death situation
As a young woman in Catholic school, I learned that abortion was the murder of a child. I learned that this reasoning was in-line with the commandment “Thou shall not kill”. As I am sure has happened every year this, was discussed a classmate raised her hand and asked: what if the pregnancy is going to kill the mom?
“Well”, my teacher said, with a satisfied mixture of exuberance and solemnity. “That woman has a chance to become a martyr for her faith”. The girls in the classroom looked to one another, you could tell by their expressions that some rejected this outright and some were looking for reassurance that this may, possibly be the case.
There has been a woman, Gianna Beretta Molla, granted sainthood for rejecting an abortion, and a hysterectomy that would have been permissible by the standards of her faith to save her life (the removal of the womb would have killed the fetus of course, but because it was not the intended termination of pregnancy it is not considered the same).
There is now a young woman in El Salvador, Beatriz, attempting to get an abortion, which her doctors have argued is medically necessary to save her life. Even without the abortion the baby will likely die a few hours after being delivered. “I don’t want to do it but I know the child won’t live and I think it is the only way to save my life” she has said in a video. When/if she dies she will not be a martyr for her faith because she has no choice.
Imani Gandy puts this so eloquently:
“The point of the term “pro-choice” and the work that pro-choice activists do is to ensure that “choice” encompasses all choices. The choice to have children. The choice to have children when you want to have them. The choice to stop having them after you already have them. It’s the choice to decide for yourself.”
The Government of El Salavador places a higher regard on the life of the baby who will not survive. They have had a complete ban on abortions since 1998 even in life-threatening situations like Beatriz, as well as no exceptions for rape and incest. Her doctors know better the urgent crisis she faces than the judges presiding over this case.
With all anti-choicers this argument about the sacredness of life begins to unravel when you look too closely at it. They scream from their self-righteous lectern that they want to stop abortion because it harms women. What about Beatriz?
Anti-choicers point to deranged doctors like Gosnell, while ignoring that this is what happens when you restrict access to abortions. Anti-choicers concern-troll over thegenocide of black communities while ignoring the real plights that people of colour face, namely systemic racism. They ignore the policies that chipped away at allowing clinics to practice safely. Anti-choicers could stand to take a cold, hard look at this situation and see a woman, a child, and a husband who want to be a family.
You see, Beatriz wants to live, she wants to go home with her 14-month baby and her husband. She holds sacred the same values we all do—hearth and home and the chance to join together and raise a family. But she may not see the chance to, because the Catholic Church values control over a woman’s body over her right to live.
Funds are being collected for Beatriz by Women’s Link Worldwide, an international organization working to promote women’s rights. Women’s Link will act as a non-profit, pass-through of tax-deductible contributions to the local Salvadoran organization Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto Ético, Terapéutico y Eugenésico, which is leading the legal fight for Beatriz. All funds will first and foremost be used for Beatriz’s medical bills, and any remaining funds will be used to help support the work of the Agrupacion. Donate here.
According to the Washinton Post: El Salvador’s health department OKs cesarean section to deliver baby of woman denied abortion.
This post was originally posted on Dispatches from Paradise. It was cross-posted here with permission.