El Salvador Won't Pardon Women In Prison for Abortions or Miscarriages

Illustration for article titled El Salvador Won't Pardon Women In Prison for Abortions or Miscarriages

In January, a woman in El Salvador who'd been imprisoned for having a miscarriage was finally pardoned, having spent seven years behind bars. The woman, known as "Guadalupe," had been charged with having an abortion, an offense which was later changed to homicide. But while Guadalupe will be officially released today, 15 other women in her situation remain in jail.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, a group dedicated to decriminalizing abortion in El Salvador, have been working together to secure the release of 17 women who are serving 3o to 40 years sentences for having obstetric emergencies that resulted in miscarriages. Only Guadalupe has won a pardon. Another woman finished her prison sentence and was released. The Agrupación Ciudadana announced today that they have learned that the legislature will refused to review pardon applications for any of the other 15 women.

Mónica Arango, the CRR's regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a press release that the organizations won't stop until the women are pardoned: "The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to shed light on the human rights violations faced by women in El Salvador, and we will not rest until the government reforms its laws to respect, protect, and fulfill women's rights to life and health."


Image via Shutterstock

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I went into preterm labor at 18 weeks and as soon as I presented to the ER, I had a serious infection (chorioamnionitis) and the birth of my son in a matter of days was inevitable. The doctors told my husband and I, that at 18 weeks, the baby had no chance of survival and neither did I if I didn't deliver the baby and get the infected placenta out ASAP. Since it was 18 weeks, that process could take days naturally and my infection would certainly become very serious and dire. Even though I loved and wanted my baby and in no way did I want to end the pregnancy, we were informed that my life was at stake and we needed to sign paperwork and agree to take a pill that would get the baby out immediately, this was technically an abortion. I assume a similar thing happened to this El Salvadorean women. I know the same thing happened to Savita Halappanavar and since she was in good ole' Catholic Ireland, she was denied the right to deliver her non-viable baby and she died of organ failure (her baby also died, obviously.) Her story is horrifying and the reason we should not have religious hospital institutions and why religion should be separate from the complicated world of pregnancy and birth.