Salvadoran court denies abortion to ill woman
May 30, 2013 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
(File) A woman marches on the International Day of Action for the Decriminalization of Abortion in San Salvador.
- El Salvador's Supreme Court said doctors cannot perform an abortion on a sick woman
- The woman's life is not at imminent risk, the court said
- Abortion is illegal in El Salvador without exceptions
- The woman had argued her life was at risk and her baby would die
San Salvador, El Salvador (CNN) -- The plea of a pregnant woman to be granted an abortion has gripped El Salvador for months: She wanted an abortion after doctors told her that her baby would not survive outside the womb and that her life was at risk.
But abortion is illegal without exceptions in El Salvador, and on Wednesday, the country's Supreme Court denied her petition.
Atttorneys for the 22-year-old woman, known only as "Beatriz," argued that the mother's life was at risk if the pregnancy was not terminated.
Ill woman at center of abortion debate in El Salvador
In a 3-1 vote, the justices ruled the risk to Beatriz's life was not imminent but a possibility in the future.
"This court finds that the rights of the mother cannot be prioritized over those of the (fetus) nor vice versa," the ruling said.
The ruling found that doctors must continue to monitor the woman and make the best medical decisions that take into account the risks to her life, and to the unborn baby, too.
Beatriz is suffering from lupus and kidney problems, and her unborn child developed without parts of the brain or skull. She asked for an abortion so that doctors could focus on saving her life, but doctors were hesitant to carry out the procedure without assurances that they wouldn't be prosecuted, her attorneys said. Doctors said they expect the baby to survive only for hours after birth.
She argued that an abortion could save her life and allow her to care for her other child, who is a year old.
Anti-abortion groups countered that abortion-rights advocates were using Beatriz as an opening to push for changes to abortion laws.
"The constitution makes it clear that life exists from the moment of conception, and anything that tries to end a life is murder," lawmaker Rodolfo Parker said after the ruling.
Women's rights groups who have held rallies in support of Beatriz said they were disappointed by the ruling and criticized the high court for taking weeks to reach a decision.
"There has to be a prudent period (to make a decision) that doesn't take practically a month and a half like we waited to have a serious analysis," said Ima Guirola of the rights group CEMUJER.
The court's decision is not the end of the Beatriz's options. Her family has said she is considering traveling outside the country to a place where an abortion can be carried out legally.
Journalist Merlin Delcid contributed to this report from San Salvador. CNN's Mariano Castillo reported and wrote in Atlanta.
Part of complete coverage on
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Treated with all due respect, volcanoes can offer some stunning vistas. Just don't fall in.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)
The blogger, the hacker, the PM... and Kim Dotcom? New Zealand's election campaign erupts in scandal.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
In the aftermath of that deadly day, the enemy quickly became clear. But now a plurality of extremist threats tests global resolve.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Soviets put stray dogs into orbit. Then, next thing you know...
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0928 GMT (1728 HKT)
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will rule whether Oscar Pistorius is a murderer.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
After months -- if not years -- of speculation, the tech giant's first foray into wearables has arrived. Here are our first impressions.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0805 GMT (1605 HKT)
Bali might be a popular tourist destination but there are crowd-free corners worth exploring.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Scots are preparing to vote on the future of their country. Will they decide to leave the UK?
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
Today's five most popular stories