El Salvador Supreme Court Respects Constitution, Life


A person’s a person, no matter how small, even if he or she has anencephaly and will only live for a few hours after birth.

It’s a guiding principle: from the moment of conception the new human person has the right to live, and no one else’s rights can trump that right.

This fairly simple principle is enshrined in the constitution of El Salvador, which explicitly forbids abortions and protects life “from the moment of conception.”

El-Salvador-mapSo when a woman whose doctors claim may die if she carries her baby to term sued for the right to have an abortion the Supreme Court read the text of their Constitution and said sorry, but no. Not in El Salvador.

The ruling read, in part, “This court determines that the rights of the mother cannot take precedence over those of the unborn child or vice versa, and that there is an absolute bar to authorising an abortion as contrary to the constitutional protection accorded to human persons ‘from the moment of conception’.”

Anencephaly—which is when the brain fails to develop in the fetus—does not change this because, while the child is physically incomplete, the lack of a brain is a defect, like a cleft palate or being born with no legs. These defects certainly color the life of the child, but they do not render the child not-a-child. Even when missing major parts, the child is the sort of thing that ought to have those parts if some defect had not interfered, so the humanness of the child is not taken away, thus neither are the rights of the person taken away.

The potential harm to the mother’s health also does not change this because directly intending a death to prevent a potential death can never be justified except in the case of resisting unjust aggression. In this El Salvador case, while her doctors claimed she would almost certainly die if she carried the baby to term, other doctors disagreed.

“Health and well-being of the mother” is a loophole large enough to drive a truck through when accommodating pro-abortion doctors get involved. All of a sudden a few days of bad feelings are diagnosed as suicidal tendencies and the baby gets the sharp-toothed forceps. Or worse.

But even if applied perfectly, “health and well-being of the mother” cannot justify killing the baby in the womb—he or she has just as much right to live as does the mother, and the circumstances the mother finds herself in do not, can not change that.

I’m glad some country in the West still recognizes this and will stand up for the right to live that we all possess as human persons from the moment of conception.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

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