- Press releases
11 April 2023
Lawyers Without Borders Canada has filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of “Beatriz and others vs El Salvador”. This brief argues for the recognition of abortion as a medical service that may be necessary to protect the health, life, and integrity of people capable of becoming pregnant.
In this case, Beatriz (not her real name) was denied access to abortion services despite the fact that medical staff recognised that the pregnancy was life-threatening and that there was no chance of survival for the fetus. The hearing, which took place in Costa Rica on 22 and 23 March, sparked significant debate on the issue of the absolute prohibition and criminalisation of abortion in El Salvador. The Court’s decision, expected in the last quarter of 2023, could set an important legal precedent for the advancement of sexual and reproductive rights throughout the region – and beyond.
The brief argues that the absolute prohibition of access to abortion and its criminalisation may constitute a form of gender-based violence, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and that by adopting such restrictive legislation, states are violating their obligations to protect and respect human rights. The brief also asks the Inter-American Court to incorporate an intersectional and gender-based approach in assessing the physical and psychological suffering suffered by Beatriz.
“We ask that the State of El Salvador comply with its international obligations to protect the rights of women and people capable of becoming pregnant and that it legalizes and decriminalises abortion services. The Salvadoran state must also facilitate access to these services by adopting clear protocols and guidelines for healthcare personnel.”
– Julia Tétrault-Provencher, Legal Advisor on Sexual and Reproductive Rights at Lawyers Without Borders Canada.
On the issue of access, Tétrault-Provencher points out that while abortion has been legalized in Canada since 1988 and is considered a health service, for some people access to these services remains difficult, if not impossible. The Beatriz case is a reminder that the struggle for sexual and reproductive rights knows no borders.
The full brief is available upon request (in Spanish only).
About Lawyers Without Borders Canada
LWBC is an international cooperation non-governmental organization whose mission is to contribute to the implementation of the human rights of people in vulnerable situations, through strengthening access to justice and legal representation.
For more information:
Sandrine Muir-Bouchard, Communications Advisor
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