Abortion and Human Rights in El Salvador
José Miguel Vivanco
Executive Director, Americas Division @JMVivancoHRW
April 3, 2018
Last August, I had the opportunity to testify before the Constitutional Tribunal in Chile, my home country, in support of a landmark law that decriminalized abortion in three circumstances. In my testimony before the court, I spoke about how Chile’s total abortion ban, in effect for 28 years, undermined women’s fundamental human rights.
I later was in the packed courtroom to hear arguments from other expert witnesses. Many people have strong, deeply held views on abortion. But the main question before the court was whether Chile’s constitutional protection for the embryo or fetus could be reconciled with allowing women to terminate their pregnancies in certain circumstances—for example, when the life of the woman or girl is at risk, or when the pregnancy resulted from rape. This question is a central part of the debate in El Salvador, where the constitution recognizes the right to life from conception, and the country bans abortion in all circumstances.