The Dark State Of Abortion Rights In El Salvador, And First Signs Of Light

Although the last Salvadorian woman imprisoned on charges linked to abortion was released in December, 11 similar cases are currently pending in the country. Human rights activists acknowledge the progress made, and the work that remains to be done to overturn strict anti-abortion laws.

Mariana Escobar Bernoske
March 09, 2024

BOGOTÁ — In December 2023, Lilian was the last Salvadoran woman to regain her freedom after spending seven years in prison for an obstetric emergency. In 2015, the courts found her guilty of "murdering" her unborn baby by planning an abortion, when in fact, a tear in her uterus had caused the death. Medics had to give her three blood transfusions to stabilize her.

El Salvador is one of Latin America's most restrictive states in terms of women's sexual and reproductive rights. Abortion is banned as the state considers persons to exist from the moment of conception, contrary to the advice of international human rights groups. Under this strict ban, women who have had pregnancy complications, miscarriages or prenatal deaths to be charged with premeditating abortion.


U.S. abortion rights setbacks spark fears in Latin America

Concerns in Latin America that abortion rights could face setbacks similar to those in the U.S. are adding urgency to the protests planned for International Women's Day this Friday, Marina writes.

March 5, 2024
Marina E. Franco

Why it matters: Regions of Latin America already are some of the most dangerous in the world for people who wish or need to terminate a pregnancy.

Threat level: Abortion bans can jeopardize the lives of women in trauma situations where continuing the pregnancy puts a woman's life at risk. Last month, Adilka Féliz, a senator's legal aide in the Dominican Republic — where there is a full ban on abortion— died from complications after an emergency premature birth procedure. She had an unviable pregnancy but was denied an abortion, her mother says.


How Dominican women fight child marriage and teen pregnancy while facing total abortion bans

January 2, 2024

AZUA, Dominican Republic (AP) — It was a busy Saturday morning at Marcia González’s church. A bishop was visiting, and normally she would have been there helping with logistics, but on this day she was teaching sex education at a local school.

“I coordinate activities at the church and my husband is a deacon,” González said. “The bishop comes once a year and children are being confirmed, but I am here because this is important for my community.”

For 40 years, González and her husband have pushed for broader sex education in the Dominican Republic, one of four Latin American nations that criminalizes abortion without exceptions. Women face up to 2 years in prison for having an abortion; penalties for doctors or midwives range from 5 to 20 years.


El Salvador – Abortion laws: The women jailed for suffering miscarriages

By Valeria Perasso and Fernando Duarte
Jun 30, 2022

Karen was sentenced to 30 years in prison in El Salvador in 2015 after being accused of having an abortion

When Karen woke up in an El Salvador hospital, she
noticed that she was handcuffed to a bed and there were police officers by her

"There were a lot of people around and they were saying I had taken my
baby's life and that I was going to 'pay for what I had done'," Karen
tells BBC 100 Women.


For abortion rights activists, Latin America provides a roadmap of ‘long fight’ ahead

It may take decades to constitutionally legalize abortion in the United States again, but advocates point to opportunities that could speed up such efforts.

June 24, 2022
By Nicole Acevedo

Human rights attorney Paula Avila-Guillen never thought she'd be fighting to decriminalize abortions in the U.S. until now, as nearly two dozen states move to ban the procedure following Roe v. Wade's official repeal Friday.

A leader of Latin America's "green wave" movement for reproductive rights, earlier this year Avila-Guillen helped legalize abortions for women up to 24 weeks-pregnant in her native Colombia, which now joins Argentina and parts of Mexico in the short list of places in Latin America where terminating a pregnancy is no longer a crime.


El Salvador’s jailed women offer US glimpse of post-Roe future

‘Don’t let our reality become your reality,’ campaigners warn after woman is freed after decade behind bars for medical emergency ruled attempted murder

Nina Lakhani
Thu 19 May 2022

A33-year-old woman in El Salvador who suffered a medical emergency while pregnant has been freed after serving a decade in jail for attempted murder, the victim of a draconian abortion ban being replicated in the US.

The woman, named only as Jacqueline, sought medical help for an obstetric complication in 2011, and even though the baby survived, she was arrested on suspicion of attempted abortion. She was separated from her newborn daughter and eight-year-old son, and sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder.


Colombia legalises abortion in move celebrated as ‘historic victory’ by campaigners

Colombia has decriminalised abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, following rulings in Mexico and Argentina that improve access to abortion

Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian
Tue 22 Feb 2022

Colombia has decriminalised abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, adding to a recent string of legal victories for reproductive rights in Latin America.

The South American country’s constitutional court ruled five against four to decriminalise the procedure on Monday evening. The decision follows a series of rulings in Mexico and Argentina that lowered barriers to abortion.


Colombia decriminalises abortion following regional ‘green wave’

Following a trend across Latin America, Colombia decriminalises abortion – making it legal up to 24 weeks.

By Megan Janetsky
Published On 22 Feb 2022

Bogota, Colombia – “Ya es ley.” Now it’s law.

That was the
chant that echoed outside Colombia’s Constitutional Court building Monday in a
sea of green handkerchiefs.

In a landmark decision, the court decriminalised abortion procedures up to 24
weeks of gestation, paving the way for greater abortion access in the largely
Catholic country.


El Salvador frees three women convicted of abortions

Abortion rights groups say President Nayib Bukele’s government has freed three Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 30 years in prison under the nation’s strict anti-abortion laws after suffering obstetric emergencies

By The Associated Press
25 December 2021

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- President Nayib Bukele's government has freed
three Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 30 years in prison under the
nation's strict anti-abortion laws after suffering obstetric emergencies,
according to abortion rights groups.

Morena Herrera of the Citizen's Group for the Depenalization of Abortion said
late Friday that the group was told one woman would be set free at presidential
order, but when they went to the prison to greet her, three were released.


’The court owes it to women’: Groups decry Colombia’s abortion ruling delay

The Constitutional Court had been expected to make history Friday, but it didn't happen. Unsafe abortions are the country's fourth-leading cause of maternal mortality.

Nov. 23, 2021

By Albinson Linares, Noticias Telemundo

Women's groups that sued to decriminalize abortion in Colombia are pushing for
a decision after a much-anticipated ruling from the country's top court was
postponed last week.

“The court owes it to women," Catalina Martínez Coral, the Latin America
and Caribbean director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Noticias