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Retrial Clears Rape Victim Convicted After Stillbirth

Evelyn Hernandez was given 30 years in abortion prosecution
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2019 5:51 PM CDT
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Evelyn Hernandez, 21, smiles in court after being acquitted on charges of aggravated homicide in her retrial related to the loss of a pregnancy in 2016, in Ciudad Delgado on the outskirts of San Salvador, El Salvador on Monday.   (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)
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(Newser) – A retrial in El Salvador has cleared a rape victim whose baby was found dead in a toilet. Evelyn Hernandez had been sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017, the BBC reports. She has said that she didn't realize she was pregnant and that she'd fainted in an outhouse before the stillbirth. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador, and Hernandez was convicted of aggravated homicide. She was locked up for 33 months. "Thank God, justice has been done," she said Monday outside the courthouse. "My future is to continue studying and to move forward with my goals. I am happy."

Hernandez's lawyer tweeted, "I am about to explode with happiness," but cautioned that other women still need justice. This was the first such case to undergo a full retrial. Activists hope to use it as precedent in fighting the sentences of other women convicted under El Salvador's abortion laws. "This day we celebrate that justice has been done for Evelyn," a Salvadoran women’s rights leader said, per the Independent. "This is a sign of hope for all women who remain in jail for crimes they did not commit, for health problems that should never have been brought to court. ... No woman should go through the ordeal that Evelyn did." (Read more El Salvador stories.)

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