When 19 year-old Glenda Xiomara Cruz showed up to her local public hospital mid-miscarriage, she had no idea that she was pregnant in the first place. A pregnancy test she took in May was negative, and her body did not seem to change much throughout the previous months.
But the hospital staff, suspecting her of attempting to self-abort, reported her to the police and within four days she was charged with aggravated murder for "intentionally murdering the 38-to-42 week foetus." Last month she was sentenced 10 years in jail because "she should have saved the baby's life" according to the judge.
As insanely disheartening as that is to hear, Xiomara's case is not unusual. Between 2000 and 2011, 49 women have been convicted for either murder or abortion—seven more since 2012. Every single one of these cases were reported public hospitals whose patients are usually poor and uneducated. And many convictions are based on very weak evidence and testimony. Xiomara herself was unable to attend her court hearing because she was too sick, having just miscarried.
Earlier this year, Beatriz, a 22-year old Salvadoran woman shed light on the travesty of abortion in the country when she was denied a life-saving abortion from the Salvadoran court. They later granted her a C-Section, and although her baby, already deemed unviable, sadly did not make it, she survived.
As more women face serious legal ramifications of merely seeking medical attention, their options seem to dwindle while the consequences continue to unravel. Women with pregnancy complications are "too afraid" to get proper help and therefore opt to not go to a hospital. And sadly, many mothers turn to suicide, the third most common cause of maternal morality.
While more women and girls are directly being put in danger on top of facing criminal charges, El Salvador still refuses to take any action at all on the matter.
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