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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 2 June, 2020
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17 women remain imprisoned in El Salvador for miscarrying their babies

The country has one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS called for the release of 17 women serving prison sentences in El Salvador for miscarrying their babies.

The women are serving terms of between 12 and 40 years for so -called “pregnancy related complications”.

El Salvador has one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world. As a result, women who suffer miscarriages or stillbirths are sometimes suspected of inducing an abortion – and can be jailed for murder.

The country’s parliament is set to vote today on issuing the first pardon in these 17 cases. Some women in the country have already served decades in prison for losing their babies, according to Amnesty.

The human rights organisation has shared the story of one of the women to highlight the issue.

Guadalupe, who has a five-year-old son, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering a miscarriage in 2007, at the age of 18. She was accused of having an abortion.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said Guadalupe’s “harrowing” story is “just one example of how the authorities in El Salvador go to ridiculous lengths to punish women”.

‘Outdated and oppressive’

Guadalupe was taken to a public hospital after the miscarriage. Hospital staff reported her to the police who questioned her without a lawyer while she was still receiving medical care. Amnesty claims she was not assessed by a psychologist at the time, so it was not possible for the judge to evaluate her state of mind during this interrogation.

By criminalising having a miscarriage and prohibiting abortion even when a woman’s life depends on it, El Salvador is simply condemning thousands to death or decades behind bars. This must change.

Guevara-Rosas said the country now has a chance “to take a first step to repair the injustice done against these 17 women”.

“All of them should be released immediately. The government must also put an end to the outdated and oppressive ban on abortion, as well as to protect women and girls against violence and discrimination.”

Column: In El Salvador, a total ban on abortion has led to death and decades of imprisonment

Read: C-section approved for seriously ill pregnant woman denied abortion in El Salvador

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Órla Ryan

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