El Salvador must reverse “terrible injustice” and free woman imprisoned for having a miscarriage

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly must vote today to overturn horrifying injustice and pardon a woman imprisoned for 30 years after having a miscarriage, said Amnesty International today. 

“Guadalupe” was just 18-years-old when she was imprisoned in 2007. She received a 30 year sentence after authorities suspected she could have actively terminated her pregnancy.  Members already voted on 16 January and “Guadalupe” lost her plea by just one vote. They will vote again today. 

“Today El Salvador has the chance to rectify a terrible injustice perpetrated against this young woman. She has already spent seven long years in prison away from her family and her release cannot come a moment too soon,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International. 

Abortion is totally banned in El Salvador, even if the pregnancy could kill the woman. Some women, mainly those living in poverty, who have a miscarriage are automatically criminalized. 

“Guadalupe” is one of 17 similar cases that will come before the Assembly petitioning a pardon in the coming months. All are women who come from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds and are serving sentences of up to 40 years for pregnancy-related charges after flawed prosecutions and trials. 

Their requests for a pardon have been going through a complex process which includes a judicial review by the Supreme Court of Justice and subsequently requires a majority plenary vote in the Legislative Assembly. 

“It is an outrage that these women have gone through such anguish and torment at the hands of the Salvadoran judicial system. The evidence provided against these 17 women is highly spurious, while the government’s reactive, out-dated stance on abortion is creating an inherent suspicion of women in the country. That must change. Today the country has a chance to step forward towards a better future for El Salvador.” 

My Body My Rights is Amnesty International’s global campaign to stop the control and criminalization of sexuality and reproduction by governments and others. Over 2014-2015 the campaign is working for change in people’s lives in a number of countries, including El Salvador. This campaign aims to remind world leaders of their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil sexual and reproductive rights.