El Salvador: What happens when abortion is illegal in all circumstances

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What happens when abortion is illegal in all circumstances

Jeannette Urquilla
May 30, 2017

El Salvador has one of the worst records on reproductive rights in the world. Since 1998, Article 133 of the Penal Code has made abortion illegal in all circumstances, without exception, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Sentences of up to 30 years have been handed down when a judge determined that “homicide” rather than abortion had occurred. The Alliance for Women’s Health and Life has reported that 147 El Salvadorian women were charged with crimes relating to abortion between 2000 and 2014.

Because our laws are so draconian, so tilted in favor of the rights of fetuses over those of living women, pregnant women experiencing difficulties may not feel safe in El Salvador’s hospitals. We’ve all heard about Maria Teresa Rivera, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison after she miscarried. (She was released after serving four.) We are terrified of having medical problems during pregnancy as there is an underlying presumption of guilt. So women often suffer in silence, which causes further complications.

Continued at source: LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-urquilla-el-salvador-abortion-20170530-story.html

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SOLIDARITY REQUEST: Urge El Salvador legislators to decriminalize abortion

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SOLIDARITY REQUEST: Urge El Salvador legislators to decriminalize abortion
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
May 12, 2017

SOLIDARITY REQUEST:

In a statement on 8 May 2017, Amnesty International said that the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly has a historic opportunity to reject the criminalisation of abortion and protect the health and lives of millions of women throughout the country, in light of a debate due to start this month which could result in the first steps being taken towards partial decriminalization of abortion. It is the first time in almost 20 years that there is a real opportunity to change this law.

The ruling party, Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, tabled the bill in October 2016. The bill would decriminalize abortion on four grounds: if the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or girl, or there is a risk to her physical or mental health, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the fetus would be unable to survive outside the womb. Another bill was tabled by anti-abortion Assembly members that would increase the criminal penalties to up to 50 years.

Continued at source: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/solidarity-request-urge-el-salvadorian-legislators-to-decriminalize-abortion/

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El Salvador: Critical opportunity to put an end to total criminalization of abortion

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El Salvador: Critical opportunity to put an end to total criminalization of abortion
8 May 2017, 11:19 UTC

The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador has a historic opportunity to reject the criminalization of abortion and protect the health and lives of millions of women throughout the country, said Amnesty International in light of a debate which could result in the first steps being taken towards the end of criminalization of abortion in the country.

“The total ban on abortion is, quite simply, a form of torture which puts the lives of millions of women and girls at risk every day,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Continued at source: Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/05/el-salvador-oportunidad-crucial-para-poner-fin-a-la-penalizacion-total-del-aborto/

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UN Urges El Salvador to Decriminalize Abortion in Certain Cases

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UN Urges El Salvador to Decriminalize Abortion in Certain Cases

Published 8 May 2017

The Central American nation upholds a total ban on abortion, which jails women for miscarriages and ends up prioritizing fetuses over women's lives.

A group of experts at the United Nations said Monday El Salvador's Congress should decriminalize abortion in specific circumstances to protect women's rights and bring the country in line with international human rights standards.

The U.N. Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs urged the Central American to "seize an exceptional opportunity to advance the protection of the human rights of women and girls" by reviewing the Article 133 of its penal code which outlines penalties for women who seek or cause an abortion.

Continued at source: Telesurvtv: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/UN-Urges-El-Salvador-to-Decriminalize-Abortion-in-Certain-Cases-20170508-0016.html

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El Salvador abortion ban under international scrutiny from human rights organization

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El Salvador abortion ban under international scrutiny from human rights organization

By Carter Sherman on Apr 20, 2017

In 2008, a pregnant, hemorrhaging woman staggered into a hospital in El Salvador seeking emergency care. The woman, a 33-year-old mother of two, had suffered an obstetric injury that led her to lose the fetus. But because her doctors suspected she had undergone an abortion, they immediately called the police.

The woman was charged with aggravated homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison, where she later died. But a petition on her behalf was admitted Wednesday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an international human rights organization, because according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, she was falsely convicted. The woman, who the Center gave the pseudonym “Manuela,” is also one of thousands of women negatively affected by El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws, which are among the strictest in the world.

Continued at link: Vice: https://news.vice.com/story/el-salvador-abortion-ban-under-international-scrutiny-from-human-rights-organization

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Salvadoran Woman Becomes First Person to Be Granted Asylum Due to Regressive Abortion Laws

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Salvadoran Woman Becomes First Person to Be Granted Asylum Due to Regressive Abortion Laws

Mar 28, 2017, 3:34pm Kathy Bougher

After giving birth in the latrine of her home in 2011, an unconscious Maria Teresa Rivera was taken to a public hospital. There, she was accused of provoking an abortion and sent to jail.

Last week, Maria Teresa Rivera of El Salvador was granted political asylum in Sweden based on her imprisonment for abortion-related charges—the first person to receive such protection in history.

Continued at source: Rewire: https://rewire.news/article/2017/03/28/salvadoran-woman-becomes-first-person-granted-asylum-due-regressive-abortion-laws/

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El Salvador: the debate on abortion law reform is officially open

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El Salvador: the debate on abortion law reform is officially open
Mar 28, 2017, by Safe Abortion

This year is the first time that this Central American country has openly debated abortion, forcing even conservative media organisations to cover the issue in editorials and primetime news programmes since abortion was made completely illegal almost 20 years ago.

“This is an historic moment. There’s been a qualitative shift – it’s not just women’s groups speaking out. Abortion has become a priority topic for a range of groups. It… feels like change. Politicians must make amends for the damage done to thousands of women … there is no going back,” said Sara García, a campaigner with the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Depenalización de Aborto.

In February 2017, CEDAW published its recommendations to the El Salvador government that it should decriminalise abortion at least in certain circumstances, and should expedite the adoption of the draft law tabled by the FMLN on four grounds to that effect. During CEDAW’s deliberations, the Agrupación, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP submitted an expert report detailing how the extreme hostility exercised under the existing law put the lives and health of Salvadoran women at grave risk.

In March, the Foundation for the Study of the Implementation of the Law (FESPAD), together with the Association of Women Lawyers (AMA), created a Forum for dialogue between Salvadoran and international jurists on the subject of decriminalisation of abortion, which called on the Members of the El Salvador Parliament to legislate for the health and lives of women, girls and adolescents by approving the proposals tabled earlier this year to decriminalise abortion on four grounds.

The Forum, entitled Constitutional Guarantees, addressed the collision of rights between pregnant women and the developing child they are carrying, and the gulf between the country’s national legislation and international conventions on reproductive rights that currently exists.

“The termination of pregnancy should be permitted in cases in which the pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant woman, or when the fetus is unviable due to fetal anomalies,” said Ricardo Iglesias, Salvadoran constitutional expert. He held that while some rights from the moment of conception are recognised, these rights are not absolute, and they do not take precedence over other rights, including those of the pregnant woman.

On 20 March, the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Issues of the Legislative Assembly held a consultation on the two pending bills to reform Article 133 of the Penal Code in relation to abortion, the one a bill to increase the criminal penalties for abortion, tabled by Deputy Ricardo Velázquez Parker of the ARENA party, the other a bill to decriminalise abortion on four grounds, tabled by Lorena Peña of the FMLN.

The FMLN bill would allow abortion in cases of risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman, fetal anomaly incompatible with life, pregnancies resulting from rape or trafficking, and for girls and adolescents who would have to face motherhood imposed by sexual abuse.

“In regard to these two initiatives, we believe in and we support the amendment tabled by Lorena Peña, as it is a step forward on the issue and would provide pregnant women with the right to have an abortion on these four grounds,” said Abraham Abrego, Director of FESPAD. Although he acknowledged that these grounds are still limited, it is an improvement on the current situation and would give the necessary legal security to both women and abortion providers in high-risk cases.

The Agrupación also reported on 21 March 2017 that María Teresa Rivera, 34, the most recent women among Las 17 to be released from prison in 2016, after serving four and a half years of a 40-year sentence on charges of aggravated homicide, was granted asylum by the government of Sweden for herself and her 11-year-old son.

Then, on 24 March, they reported that two representatives of the US Congress, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Norma J Torres, delivered a letter signed by 21 members of Congress, including the senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, Eliot Engel, to the President of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, and the President of the Salvadoran Congress, Guillermo Gallegos Navarrete. The letter asked them also to support the efforts to decriminalise abortion on four grounds. In the letter, these members of the US Congress expressed their opposition to the total ban on abortion in El Salvador and called on President Sánchez Cerén to work with civil society and the Salvadoran Congress to advance the FMLN amendments. The letter also emphasises that while the decriminalization of abortion on the four grounds is not sufficient to guarantee access to all reproductive health services for Salvadoran women, it does represent a significant improvement and brings El Salvador closer to complying with international human rights standards.

SOURCES: Agrupación Ciudadana, 24 de marzo de 2017; The Guardian, 23 March 2017 ; Agrupación Ciudadana, 22 de marzo de 2017 ; Agrupación Ciudadana, 20 de marzo de 2017; Agrupación Ciudadana, 6 de marzo de 2017 ; Al-Jazeera, 28 October 2016

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/el-salvador-the-debate-on-abortion-law-reform-is-officially-open/

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Support building for landmark move to overturn El Salvador’s anti-abortion law

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Support building for landmark move to overturn El Salvador's anti-abortion law

Parliamentary bill proposing to loosen draconian restrictions on abortion finds favour after religious groups, doctors and others voice public support

Nina Lakhani in Mexico City

Thursday 23 March 2017

El Salvador’s controversial law banning abortion in all circumstances, which has provoked ruthless miscarriages of justice, could be overturned in what has been described as a historic move.

Momentum is building around a parliamentary bill proposing to allow abortion in cases of rape or human trafficking; when the foetus in unviable; or to protect the pregnant woman’s health or life.

Prominent church groups, doctors, lawyers and ethicists have generated a groundswell of public support after speaking out in favour of loosening restrictions in a series of public hearings and debates.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/mar/23/el-salvador-anti-abortion-law-overturn-support-building-landmark-move

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Controversial Ruling Threatens Abortion Access in Uruguay and Beyond

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Controversial Ruling Threatens Abortion Access in Uruguay and Beyond

Mar 14, 2017
Lauren Rankin

In 2012, Uruguay changed its law to allow abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. But a judge's ruling that a woman could not have an abortion without her ex-partner's consent sets a dangerous and possibly globally influential precedent valuing the fetus and father's wishes over those of the pregnant person.

A recent case in Uruguay has fueled a divisive public conversation about abortion in the country, where legal abortion is still very new.

On February 24, a Uruguayan local family judge ruled that a 24-year-old woman could not terminate her 10-week pregnancy after the woman’s ex-boyfriend tried to stop her from going through with the procedure.

Continued at source: Rewire: https://rewire.news/article/2017/03/14/controversial-ruling-threatens-abortion-access-uruguay-beyond/

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El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion

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El Salvador Should Decriminalize Abortion
Some Women Accused of Having Abortions Convicted of Murder, Sentenced to 40 Years

by Sarah Taylor
February 16, 2017

In 2013, the life of “Beatriz,” a 22-year-old woman in El Salvador, was put in grave danger as a result of her pregnancy. But abortion is illegal in El Salvador. Trying to save her own life, Beatriz took her case to the Supreme Court – after all, her doctors deemed the medical procedure necessary for her to live – but the court ruled she could not have an abortion. Even the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights intervened, but it was not enough. Beatriz’s health deteriorated; the government delayed. Finally, Beatriz underwent an emergency Caesarean section, and the baby died several hours later. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, she has continued to have health consequences from the ordeal.

Continued at source: Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/16/el-salvador-should-decriminalize-abortion

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