A Salvadoran woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she delivered a stillborn in a toilet will face a retrial next week.
Evelyn Beatríz Hernández was in high school when she was arrested in 2016 on suspicion of having an abortion after police found fetal remains in an outhouse. Now 21, Hernández said she was raped and didn’t realize she was pregnant until she went into labor in the bathroom.
In February, her sentence was annulled, and civil rights groups are hopeful that Hernández will be found innocent in the face of some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. (In El Salvador, abortion is illegal under any circumstances.)
“We’re convinced that Evelyn is innocent,” Ana Martínez, one of Hernández’s lawyers with the advocacy organization Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion (CDFA), told Reuters. “We hope that on Monday the rule of law and justice wins in this country.”
The CDFA added that there was no proof Hernández sought an abortion, and that she had suffered a pregnancy-related complication.
While El Salvador is one of six countries with total abortion bans, it has a notably high conviction rate, with around 20 women in jail for abortion crimes after having miscarriages, stillbirths and pregnancy complications. Some women are serving sentences up to 40 years.
Imelda Cortez, for one, spent 18 months in jail on abortion charges before being found innocent. Cortez was raped and impregnated by her 70-year-old step-father, and didn’t realize she was pregnant until she was rushed to the hospital after experiencing severe pain and hemorrhaging.