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Government of El Salvador releases three women serving long prison sentences for abortion

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2021. 1:44 pm CST.

Photo Credit Associated Press

By Benjamin Flowers: Three women in El Salvador who were serving long prison sentences after being convicted of having abortions have been released, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Each of the women, only identified as Karen, Kathy, and Evelyn, were serving 30-year sentences at a prison in the municipality Zacatecoluca.

On Friday, Morena Herrera of the Citizen’s Group for the Depenalization of Abortion said that the group had been informed one of the women had been pardoned by President Nayib Bukele; however when they went to pick her up from the prison, three women were released instead.

Herrera noted that there were petitions pending before the Supreme Court to have their sentences commuted. The three were a part of a larger group of around 17 women who were convicted of having abortions despite obstetric emergencies. the group has been at the center of a campaign against El Salvador’s strict laws on abortion.

The topic of abortion is a controversial one in el Salvador as in many other parts of the world, with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling in November that El Salvador’s government had violated the rights of a woman identified as Manuela who was arrested in 2008 on charges of provoking an abortion. That woman reportedly died while in custody in 2010, leaving two children.

“El Salvador is among four countries in Latin America that ban abortion in all cases, including when the life of the mother is at risk and in cases of rape. The others are Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Charges of homicide are often brought in abortion cases,” the AP said.

In December of last year, Argentina legalized abortion, and in September of this year, Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion.

In Belize abortion is addressed in Section 111 and 112 of the Criminal Code, prescribing a 14-year prison sentence upon conviction.

The law does make provision for legal abortion under the grounds that the pregnancy “is terminated by a registered medical practitioner.” The provision comes with the criteria that two medical practitioners must have come to the conclusion in good faith that the pregnancy was either a threat to the life of the mother or posed serious risks to the child if the pregnancy was allowed to go to its full term.

 

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