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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Woman jailed for miscarrying her baby is released

16 other women remain in jail, accused of having abortions.

A YOUNG WOMAN who was jailed in El Salvador for miscarrying her baby has been granted a pardon by the country’s government.

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.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the decision to release Guadalupe “has undone a terrible injustice”.

This release is a triumph of justice and a result of the tireless work by local human rights activists. This decision must mark a turning point for El Salvador’s retrograde laws which punish women and girls when having medical complications during their pregnancies.

It is time for the authorities to review the sentences against all women imprisoned for pregnancy-related complications and end its criminalisation of women and girls and its heinous anti-abortion ban.

15 women remain imprisoned

El Salvador has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world, criminalising the procdeure on all grounds, even when a woman or girls’ life is in danger and in cases of rape.

Women and girls suspected of having illegal abortions are also often charged with homicide. Following Guadalupe’s release, 15 other women serving prison sentences for ’pregnancy-related complications’ are also seeking pardons. Another woman was conditionally released last year, but is still threatened with prison and also seeking to be pardoned.

The women are serving terms of between 12 and 40 years.

O’Gorman said the biggest obstacle facing the women is “the reluctance of the Government and politicians” to act.

While all agree there is a serious problem, they shamefully abdicate their responsibility to act and instead ignore El Salvador’s human rights obligations. They say the problem is beyond their control, pointing to the constitutional issue and the power of those who oppose abortion.

Amnesty International is currently running a global campaign called My Body My Rights, aimed at stopping governments and others from controlling and criminalising sexuality and reproduction.

Background: 17 women remain imprisoned in El Salvador for miscarrying their babies

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

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Órla Ryan

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