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Advocacy: letter to legislative assembly of El Salvador to legalize therapeutic abortion

By Natasha Reifenberg | 02 Jun, 2017

Dear Medical Experts-
 
As you may know, the Legislative Assembly in El Salvador voted in 1997 to pass a total prohibition on abortion. No abortions, no exceptions--not even when the life or health of the mother is in danger. Doctors who choose to perform an abortion to save a pregnant woman's life, if found guilty, could serve a 2-8 year prison sentence.
 
The Legislative Assembly in El Salvador is now considering a new law that would re-legalize therapeutic abortion. We are asking doctors from all over the Americas to sign the attached letter to support legalizing therapeutic abortion.
 
Your signatures could make a major difference. Salvadorans who support the current total abortion ban are fond of saying "given modern medical advances, there are no situations today when a doctor cannot save the life of a pregnant woman while still trying to save the life of the fetus." Having medical experts such as yourselves testify to the fact that, actually, women still do sometimes need abortions to save their lives and health, could be very impactful in the deliberations of Salvadoran law makers.
 
If you are willing to sign the attached/copied letter, please send an email with your NAME and INSTITUTIONAL AFFILIATION to
 

 
I will personally collect your signatures.
 
This letter, with your signatures, will be published in a Salvadoran newspaper, and copies will be distributed to all members of the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly.
 
The letter is in Spanish, followed by an English translation.
 
With thanks,




DRAFT OF LETTER:
 
Aborto Terapéutico Legal—La VERDADERA Posición Pro-vida
 
Cuando la vida de una mujer salvadoreña se encuentra en peligro por el embarazo, la ley de aborto de su país exige que el médico tratante permita la muerte tanto de la madre como del hijo.
 
Esta no es una posición “pro-vida.”
 
Nosotros y nosotras, tanto médicos como expertos, y nuestras instituciones, que son las más reconocidas en el hemisferio, afirmamos:
 
· A pesar de los recientes avances de la medicina, sigue existiendo un número de situaciones en los que una mujer embarazada morirá si no tiene la opción de acceder a un aborto terapéutico inmediato y seguro.

 
· Cuando un embarazo pone en peligro la vida de una mujer antes de la semana 22, no hay ninguna manera de salvar la vida del feto, porque el feto simplemente no puede sobrevivir fuera del cuerpo de la mujer embarazada. Por ejemplo, si una mujer con un embarazo ectópico no interrumpe su embarazo a tiempo, su trompa de Falopio puede estallar entre la sexta y décima semana de embarazo, poniendo su vida en peligro por un embrión que no tiene ninguna posibilidad de desarrollo y que nunca se podrá convertir en un bebé.

 
· Prohibir el aborto terapéutico ata las manos de los médicos en momentos críticos de la emergencia obstétrica. Cuando existe la imposibilidad del aborto terapéutico legal, los médicos, por el temor a dañar al feto y ser procesados por el delito del aborto, son puestos en una posición que no les permite dar el tratamiento necesario para salvar la vida de la mujer.

 
· Algunas figuras públicas han dicho que “si un médico intenta salvar ambas vidas (madre y feto) y como consecuencia inevitable del tratamiento interrumpe el embarazo, no ha cometido un crimen”. Esto no es cierto. Según la ley salvadoreña, el aborto está absolutamente prohibido y no es aceptable bajo ninguna circunstancia. No hay ninguna excepción legal que considere las “intenciones” del médico. Bajo la ley corriente, se puede condenar a cualquier médico imputándole sentencias desde 2 a 8 años, solo por el hecho de salvar la vida de la mujer embarazada.

 
Legalmente permitir que una mujer muera porque hay un feto en su matriz, el cual podría perecer con su madre, desafía todos los principios de la ética médica y las definiciones de derechos humanos.
 
Nosotros, expertos médicos de la región, hacemos una invocación a que El Salvador se una al resto del mundo y permita legalmente el aborto terapéutico.
 
(firmas abajo)
 
 
 
 
ENGLISH VERSION
 
Legal Therapeutic Abortion—The TRUE Pro-Life Position
 
When a Salvadoran woman’s pregnancy endangers her life, her country’s abortion laws require her doctor to allow her to die, along with her child.
 
This is not a “pro-life” position.
 
We, medical doctors and experts, and our institutions, which are among the most esteemed in the hemisphere, affirm:
 
· Despite recent medical advances, there remain a number of situations in which a pregnant woman will die if she does not have the opportunity to access an immediate and safe therapeutic abortion.

 

· When a pregnancy puts a woman’s life in danger before her 22nd week of pregnancy, there is no way to save the life of the fetus, because the fetus simply cannot survive outside the pregnant woman’s body. For example, if a woman suffering an ectopic pregnancy cannot interrupt the pregnancy in time, then her Fallopian tubes will burst between the 6th and 10th week of pregnancy, putting her life in danger for an embryo that has no possibility of ever developing into a baby.

 
· Prohibiting therapeutic abortion ties doctors’ hands in the critical moments of an obstetrical emergency. When therapeutic abortion is illegal, doctors, for fear of damaging the fetus and being prosecuted for the crime of abortion, are put in a position where they simply cannot provide the necessary treatment to save a woman’s life.

 
· Some public figures (in El Salvador) have said that, “If a doctor’s intentions are to save the life of both (the mother and the fetus), and as an unavoidable consequence of the treatment the pregnancy is interrupted, then he or she has not committed any crime.” This is simply not true. According to the Salvadoran law, abortion is absolutely prohibited in every circumstance. There are no legal exceptions for the doctor’s “intentions.” Under the current law, any doctor could receive a 2-8 year prison sentence just for saving the life of a pregnant woman.

 
Legally allowing a woman to die only because there is a fetus in her womb—a fetus that will likely die with its mother—defies all principles of medical ethics and the very definition of human rights.
 
We, medical experts of the region, call on El Salvador to join the rest of the world and legalize therapeutic abortion.
 
Sincerely,

 

This Community is Archived.

This community is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.