Beatriz´s case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has positioned the serious human rights violations caused by the absolute criminalization of abortion in the Americas. Two months after the historic opening hearing in Costa Rica, we navigate the slogans of the feminist movement in an attempt to discover, between reality and hope, who Beatriz is. Additionally, we call for a favorable resolution that supports the right to decide of women and pregnant people across the Americas.

Between March 22 and 23 of this year, «Justice for Beatriz, justice for all» was one of the most powerful slogans in the streets of San José, Costa Rica. The euphoric cry came from the supporters of the Green Wave that flooded the area surrounding the IACHR headquarters, the site of the historic hearing of Beatriz´s case. This case has positioned the serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Salvadoran Government as a regional issue, as a result of its absolute criminalization of abortion.

Beyond the case being litigated in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, two perspectives coexist in the fight of Beatriz´s case that have deeply moved the feminist movement in the Americas and the world: first, the reality and second, the dream that leads to hope. In a differentiated – but not exclusive – way, both dimensions seek to answer the question of who was and who is Beatriz?

The reality is that Beatriz was a young rural woman living in poverty who was denied a termination of her pregnancy by the Salvadoran Government in 2013, despite the proven non-viability of the fetus and the high risk that continuation of the pregnancy posed to her health. She was also «the woman who moved the world» because she challenged the Salvadoran Government before the IACHR for her right to decide. In simple terms, Beatriz was a young woman and mother who, above all, “wanted to live and be happy” with her son and the rest of her family.

This reality also implies that we must recognize and be conscious that many girls, adolescents, young and adult women, as well as pregnant women, suffer from health and quality of life problems or imposed maternity. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, they resort to unsafe abortions, either due to their absolute criminalization (as in in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Haiti) – or their access conditioned to grounds that turn out to be insufficient (Guatemala). Clearly, the legal abortion framework is a product of sexist and misogynist violence manifested, and at the same time, in the social criminalization of women´s bodily autonomy.

In this context, now more than ever, the Beatriz  case is relevant due to the advances of religious fundamentalism and political conservatism whose anti-rights stance has been reflected in legal reforms and public policies, among them, the overturn of Roe v. Wade sentence in the United States, as one of its most serious manifestations. For these reasons, hope rests in Beatriz as a legacy and an inspiration for the struggle for the lives of young women throughout the Americas.

As a feminist movement or, simply, as people with the conviction that more just realities are possible, the dream in which we allow hope is life. The hope for a dignified life that contemplates the respect of our sexual and reproductive rights in its entire spectrum: the right to legal, safe and free abortion; the vindication of desired pregnancies and motherhood, affordable access to contraceptives, the guarantee of holistic services and quality menstrual, gynecological and obstetric health products. Ultimately, we dream of societies that place our desires and will over our bodies at the center and, give us our right to decide about our present and future.

All of dreams are reflected in Beatriz. That is why, on the International Day of Action for Women´s Health and Menstrual Hygiene that is commemorated on May 28th, we once again cry out for “Justice for Beatriz”, and we make the following calls for action:

  • Activists, organizations, youth movements and the general public to join the «Justice for Beatriz» campaign, because any territorial or digital action of message dissemination and support counts when it comes to the defense of our life and integrity as women and pregnant people.
  • The philanthropic community to continue long-term support for youth activism and struggles for reproductive justice. Feminist-sensitive funding practices based on trust and flexibility ensure the necessary sustainability and autonomy to promote pro-choice legislative and public policy changes.
  • The IACHR to resolve Beatriz’s case in harmony to guarantee the non-repetition of the violation of the rights of women in the Americas in the face of the absolute criminalization and restricted access to abortion. Because, in the long run, our struggle is a fight for girls, women, and pregnant people in the Americas to have a life with dignity and happiness, and we trust that we can reach that same goal together.


Tania Bello, Program Officer,
Central America and Mexico Youth Fund – CAMY Fund