By Joe Fletcher | 23 December 2014
The abortion laws in El Salvador are nothing less than barbaric. You can be sentenced to jail for two years for having or assisting with an abortion. One woman has been sentenced to prison for thirty years – because she had a miscarriage.
At the age of 30-Years-Old, Maria Teresa Rivera was sentenced to thirty years in prison for the crime of “aggravated homicide” when she had the misfortune to have a miscarriage. She is one of hundreds of women who have been sentenced to prison under El Salvador’s cruel abortion ban. The number of women who have been jailed for having an abortion but actually have had a miscarriage is unknown – but likely to be high.
“The judge didn’t believe me when I told him that I didn’t even know I was pregnant at the time and that I’d started bleeding at home and had a miscarriage,” Rivera told the Thomas Reuters Foundation. “I’ll never understand why he was so harsh. I thought about my young son who’ll be nearly 50 by the time I’m released… My son won’t know me when I leave jail.”
Human rights groups have urged El Salvador to end their current abortion laws and free the women who are currently jailed for violating the law.
“We have seen first-hand the devastating impact these laws are having on the women and girls of El Salvador, from women dying during clandestine abortions, to others imprisoned for more than 40 years after having suffered a miscarriage. Now representatives from various countries have joined us in saying enough is enough,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
You can watch a short animated video that tells Rivera’s story below.
You can sign a petition that demands El Salvador’s president to end El Salvador’s abortion laws here.
Joe Fletcher is a writer and community organizer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the Managing Editor for Green Action News, a publication focused on covering environmental issues and activism. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Ello.
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