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El Salvador gives woman accused of abortion 30 years prison

By: April Carson

In El Salvador, a woman who suffered a miscarriage was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide after a court ruled that she caused her fetus' death. The case sends an urgent message to women in the United States, where the supreme court is considering overturning a key ruling which legalized abortion.

On Monday, the court sentenced a woman known as "Esme" to prison for nearly two years following her arrest when she went to a public hospital for medical treatment. After she was examined by doctors, she was accused of "inducing an abortion" and detained.

“The sentence against Esme represents a significant step backwards for El Salvador's efforts to outlaw maternal manslaughter,” said Paula Avila-Guillen, president of the Women's Equality Center and international human rights lawyer.

During a press conference on Monday, Avila-Guillen said that as the United States goes through the prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned — which would legalize abortion in the country for good — similar instances will likely occur across the world.

“We've seen it time and again in Latin America, where abortion is criminalized.

Women are made to prove that any one of the numerous types of obstetric emergencies they face was in reality an emergency, and when they can't or don't have access to these things or aren't believed, they risk imprisonment.

“Everyone in the United States should be keeping a close eye on El Salvador right now to see what a future without Roe looks like.”

While it’s impossible to know exactly how many women have been accused of abortion in El Salvador, since the law doesn’t differentiate between abortions and other types of pregnancy-related deaths, the number is likely high.

The jail sentence imposed on Dr. Ferrer was a "blow," according to the president of The Citizens' Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, Morena Herrera. She demanded that miscarriages be treated as a public health problem rather than a criminal one, and called it a "heavy blow."

“We will continue to struggle so that all women who have been unjustly imprisoned as a result of these circumstances may regain their freedom and have the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” she added.

El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in the world. The Central American country bans abortion under all circumstances, even when a woman’s life is at risk. Women who have abortions can be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

El Salvador has some of the world's most severe abortion restrictions, with a blanket prohibition on termination. In contrast to many other Latin American nations, El Salvador does not allow abortion in instances where the fetus is the result of rape or incest, or when the mother's health or wellbeing is jeopardized.

Over the last two decades, nearly 180 women have been imprisoned for murder for ending an ectopic or molar pregnancy in order to save their lives. According to human rights organizations, over the same duration, more than 180 women have been incarcerated for murdering their newborns.

Since December, eight women convicted of life sentences have had those terms commuted. One of those women, Rosamel Araya, was freed in early February after spending 15 years behind bars.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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