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Woman sentenced to 30 years in prison for abortion in El Salvador

A woman who sought care at a hospital for an obstetric emergency was instead accused of abortion and found guilty of aggravated homicide in a country with a total ban on abortion.
Women protest the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador
Women protest the Legislative Assembly during a demonstration to demand legal abortion in San Salvador, El Salvador on Sept. 28, 2021.Roque Alvarenga / APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images file
/ Source: Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — A court in El Salvador has sentenced a woman who suffered an obstetric emergency that ended her pregnancy to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide, according to a nongovernmental organization assisting in her defense.

The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion said Tuesday in a statement that a woman they identified only as “Esme” was sentenced Monday. The woman had already been in pre-trial detention for two years following her arrest when she sought medical care in a public hospital.

“The judge acted with partiality, giving greater weight to the version offered by the Attorney General’s Office, which was loaded with stigmas and gender stereotypes,” the group said. They said they would appeal.

The sentence could not be immediately confirmed because the courts were closed Tuesday for Mother’s Day.

El Salvador maintains a total ban on abortion and a number of women have been arrested and sentenced to prison after suffering apparent miscarriages that were reported to authorities.

In the past two decade, nearly 180 women have been prosecuted. Since 2009, the government has released 64 of them. Just since December, eight women serving long prison sentences have had those sentences commuted.

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