Court reaches verdict in case of woman appealing 30-year prison sentence for alleged ‘abortion’

A Salvadoran woman takes part in a demonstration to demand the decriminalization of abortion, outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador. (MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman sentenced to 30 years in prison over what she said was a stillbirth has had her appeal rejected by an El Salvador court that appears to have ignored her legal team’s evidence that her baby died before it was ever born. In announcing the decision, the court said that it had relied on the government’s testimony that the girl was born alive and then asphyxiated.

Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, 37, has already spent more than a decade in prison. At the time of her incarceration, she was only 24 years old. In El Salvador, where abortion is illegal in all cases, it’s up to the judge’s discretion to determine whether women are charged with abortion — which carries a sentence of two to eight years — or homicide, which comes with a 30-year minimum sentence. Human rights activists had been working to free Vásquez as part of the “Las 17” campaign, which seeks to aid women sentenced to murder over believed obstetric emergencies that the government claims were abortions.

“Teodora’s tragic story is a sad illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador, where human rights seem to be a foreign concept,” said director of Amnesty Americas Erika Guevara-Rosas. “Instead of punishing Teodora for being a woman, authorities in El Salvador must urgently take a hard look at their outrageous anti-abortion law and take immediate steps to repeal it.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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