A woman in El Salvador has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after she suffered a miscarriage. According to the judge, she deliberately terminated her pregnancy, which is considered murder in the Latin American country.
The woman, who only wants to be identified as Esme, sought medical attention at a hospital two years after the miscarriage, but instead of being helped, she was arrested. She was charged with murdering an unborn child and was told last Monday that she must serve a 30-year prison sentence.
The abortion law in El Salvador is one of the strictest in the world and termination of pregnancy is illegal in all circumstances. Even if a child is conceived by rape or if the health of the woman or child is in danger, abortion is not allowed. People who help with abortion also risk a prison sentence. Since the introduction of the strict law in 1998, more than 180 women have been convicted of murder for having had an abortion.
Activists are outraged by Esme’s conviction, calling it a step back in the country’s progress. “Women are forced to prove they’ve had a miscarriage. If they can’t prove it or are not believed, they risk jail time,” said Paula Avila-Guillan, a human rights lawyer and director of Women’s Equality Center.
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