Salvadoran doctors perform C-section in high risk pregnancy

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) - Doctors performed a C-section on a chronically ill Salvadoran woman who was denied an abortion despite her high risk pregnancy, the head of a support group said.

"What we have been told is that Beatriz is well. She had a girl but we are told it is very painful to see her," said Ms Morena Herrera, the head of a group that advocates the decriminalisation of abortion.

The 22-year-old woman, who has only been identified by her first name, had requested an abortion to terminate the pregnancy because she suffers from lupus, which weakens the immune system, and the foetus she was carrying had anencephaly, a total or partial absence of the brain and the skull.

El Salvador's Supreme Court rejected the request, however, saying the rights of the mother cannot take precedence over those of the unborn child.

With the approval of Health Minister Maria Isabel Rodriguez, doctors then proceeded to deliver the baby prematurely by C-section after 26 weeks of gestation.

"It is very clear at this time that the pregnancy intervention is not an abortion, it is an induced birth, which is something else," Ms Rodriguez told a news conference last week.