Published: Sat, December 16, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

El Salvador court jails woman 30 years for having abortion

El Salvador court jails woman 30 years for having abortion

As she came to her senses, the police accused her of killing her own baby by inducing an abortion. The government autopsy claimed the child had died of "perinatal asphyxia" after birth and the court sentenced the woman to 30 years in prison - where she has been rotting for the past 10 years, while her mother is raising her 13-year-old son.

In the country of El Salvador, abortion has been strictly illegal since 1998, meaning almost a whole generation of Salvadoran women have been denied reproductive rights for almost two decades.

In El Salvador, both the woman receiving the abortion and any medical professional aiding her are criminalized; doctors can receive up to 12 years in prison for taking part, but the woman, as in Vasquez's case, often bears the worst brunt of the punishment.

Her attorneys appealed her sentence, presenting testimony that the baby was born dead.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director of rights watchdog Amnesty International, called for women convicted under such laws to be let out of prison, saying: "All women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or experiencing obstetric emergencies should be immediately and unconditionally released, and the law must be repealed without delay".

"I never realised I had my baby, I was waiting for help, I didn't even know I was losing so much blood", she said. Her lawyers said she suffered health complications and suffered a stillbirth.

El Salvador has the most stringent anti-abortion rules on the entire planet, where women are not allowed to terminate their pregnancies even if they were a victim of sexual assault, incest or if the fetus was endangering their lives.

A woman can be punished with a sentence of up to eight years for an abortion, and in some cases up to 50 years if a judge determines "homicide" was committed.

A court in El Salvador has upheld a 30-year jail term handed down on a woman who had a miscarriage over 10 years ago, Independent UK reports.

Last month, the United Nations called on El Salvador to issue a moratorium on applying its abortion law and urged authorities to review all cases where women have been imprisoned for abortion related crimes.

The court's inhumane decision has drawn the ire of human rights activists across the world.

For Carmen Vasquez, it remains unclear what her next steps will be.

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