El Salvador's Catholic Church accused activists Sunday of using the case of a woman who delivered a baby with cerebral malformation to "open the door" to legalized abortion, AFP reports.
On June 3, doctors performed a C-section on the chronically ill woman, known only by the pseudonym "Beatriz." The baby, a girl, was born without a brain and lived for only five hours.
"They had crooked intentions," San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar told reporters after officiating Mass.
"There were things that were said about Beatriz that were not true and lacked evidence. With this case, they want to leave the door open to promote the practice of abortion."
Beatriz had requested an abortion, strictly forbidden in the Central American country, to terminate the pregnancy because she suffers from lupus, a disease that weakens the immune system.
Doctors had said that the fetus she was carrying had anencephaly, a total or partial absence of the brain and the skull, and would likely die upon birth.
Beatriz, 22, is currently recovering from the surgical procedure at a state maternity hospital in San Salvador.
The archbishop said the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the woman's request for an abortion was successful because it "protected the life of the child in the womb." But he expressed regret that the baby died subsequently.
Escobar also criticized unnamed international organizations for " arrogantly meddling" by seeking a therapeutic abortion for Beatriz.
"I call upon society to be vigilant. Abortion is murder of the unborn person. We cherish our legislation," he said.
Beatriz's case got world attention, with women's organizations and rights groups outraged at her plight.
The woman, who is already the mother of a one-year-old child, could have been jailed for 50 years had she had an abortion.
The Supreme Court rejected Beatriz's request for an abortion, saying the rights of the mother could not take precedence over those of the unborn child.