Woman Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison Over Miscarriage

El Salvador has a history of sentences like this for pregnancy loss
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2022 12:00 AM CDT
An Emergency Ended Her Pregnancy. She Was Sentenced to 30 Years
In this Dec. 13, 2017 file photo, women protest demanding the government free women prisoners who are serving 30-year prison sentences for having an abortion, in San Salvador, El Salvador.   (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

(Newser) – A court in El Salvador has sentenced a woman who suffered an obstetric emergency that ended her pregnancy to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide, according to a nongovernmental organization assisting in her defense. The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion said Tuesday in a statement that a woman they identified only as “Esme” was sentenced Monday. The woman had already been in pre-trial detention for two years following her arrest when she sought medical care in a public hospital, the AP reports. “The judge acted with partiality, giving greater weight to the version offered by the Attorney General’s Office, which was loaded with stigmas and gender stereotypes,” the group said. They said they would appeal.

The sentence could not be immediately confirmed because the courts were closed Tuesday for Mother’s Day. El Salvador maintains a total ban on abortion and a number of women have been arrested and sentenced to prison after suffering apparent miscarriages that were reported to authorities. In the past two decade, nearly 180 women have been prosecuted. Since 2009, the government has released 64 of them. Just since December, eight women serving long prison sentences have had those sentences commuted. Says one international human rights lawyer to the Guardian, "Everyone in the US should have their eyes on El Salvador right now to understand exactly what a future without Roe entails."

(Read more El Salvador stories.)

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