El Salvador Denies A Woman’s Right To Life

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, May 30, 2013 13:27 EDT
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So, it looks like El Salvador is going to go ahead and murder-through-neglect a 22-year-old woman who needs an abortion to live. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. The only way this is surprising is if you believe that “pro-life” policies have anything to do with life. This was entirely predictable, if you correctly believe that opposition to abortion is rooted in a belief that women should give birth whether they like it or not—or die trying. This woman is a human sacrifice made by the government of El Salvador to demonstrate their fealty to the belief that women are subhuman baby factories who don’t deserve rights.

The woman in question, who is being called Beatriz by the press, is suffering from lupus and kidney disease that will likely kill her if she gives birth, and her fetus doesn’t have a brain, meaning that it will not survive if brought to term. If/when she passes, she wil leave behind a young son and a husband.

When I say “human sacrifice”, I am not exaggerating. The Catholic Church has responded to the surge of feminist energy around the world in no small part by doubling down on their denunciations of contraception and abortion, and making it clear that women should put being subservient baby-makers over every other consideration, even their own basic survival. In fact, there’s a lot of romanticizing of women who die in childbirth, to the point where it’s treated like it’s the most awesome thing you can do as a woman. At least one woman I know of has been sainted for dying rather than choosing abortion, and anti-choicers frequently spread slobberingly worshipful propaganda exalting death in childbirth as the best thing that ever happened. (Here’s a typical example.) The misogynist longing for female death isn’t even really subtextual at this point, but right there on the surface. And if you won’t choose death, well, they’ll choose it for you.

All of this is why it’s really just so, so disingenuous for a bunch of death eaters like the hardcore Catholics to claim that pro-choicers are pushing a “culture of death”. Nothing is more pro-life than the belief that women’s lives matter, independent of their fertility. Anti-choicers in the U.S. know that pushing for these really hardcore policies that ban abortions with no exceptions exposes how anti-life they actually are, so they usually don’t go this far, but don’t be fooled. Bans on abortion for the health of the mother might as well be bans on abortion in the case of the mother’s life. Cases like Beatriz’s, where the chance of death is near 100% if she gives birth, are pretty rare. Doctors will generally be reluctant to push for legal abortions in cases where the chance of death is more like 50% or 75%. Plus, if women are granted life-saving abortions in some cases, such eclampsia, they regain their health pretty quickly right after the abortion, giving misogynist prosecutors leverage to say that she wasn’t “really” sick and prosecuting the doctors and their patients anyway.

Anti-choice politics are always about the sacrificing of women’s lives. They start with sacrificing women’s ability to live their lives freely, and eventually move on to terminating women’s right to have those lives at all. This is but one really egregious example.

A positive pregnancy test, via William J. Serson on Flickr, Creative Commones licensed.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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