They Called It Stillbirth. El Salvador Called It Murder

2nd woman sees aggravated murder sentence commuted
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2018 1:14 PM CDT
They Called It Stillbirth. El Salvador Called It Murder
Women protest outside a courtroom, demanding the government free women serving sentences for abortion, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Dec. 13, 2017.   (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)

El Salvador is one of a few countries where abortion is banned outright, with no exceptions for women raped or at risk of death. Activists, however, are calling attention to a "pivotal moment for El Salvador's abortion law reform" after a welcome move Tuesday. After serving 15 years of a 30-year sentence for the aggravated murder of her child, who she says was stillborn, Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín had her sentence commuted by the Supreme Court and was released from prison, reports Reuters. The 34-year-old maintains she suffered a late-term miscarriage in 2003 while working as a maid, per the BBC. "I'm going to start again and make up for lost time," she's quoted as saying. "I want to study law to understand what happened to me and help other women."

And there are many more to be helped. Figueroa's release follows that of 34-year-old Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, whose own 30-year sentence for aggravated murder was commuted a month ago after she served 10 years for what she claimed was a stillbirth experienced while working as a school cafeteria cook in the last month of her pregnancy, reports the New York Times. But at least 27 women remain in prison in El Salvador for violating the abortion ban, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. In an op-ed at Reuters, CRR rep Catalina Martínez Coral notes El Salvador is now "at a pivot point," with Congress entertaining two bills that would allow abortion in limited cases, including where pregnancy poses a risk to a woman's health or results from rape. (Read more abortion stories.)

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