A woman has been sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment because she suffered a miscarriage.
However, her case was prosecuted as a “homicide” under El Salvador’s anti-abortion law.
Teodora Vásquez has so far spent 10 years in prison, during which she had filed an appeal against her conviction in 2007. Now, her appeal has been rejected and her conviction upheld by the tribunal which presided over her case.
Her lawyer, Victor Vigo, described the judgement as “speculative;” saying the tribunal had only repeated what it did in 2007 when Teodora’s case first came up.
“A tribunal must not speculate; it must look at the facts. They have no proof that she did the criminal act,” Vigo insisted.
Amnesty International has described El Salvador as “a nation known as the worst place in the world for women’s reproductive rights.”
The UK Independent reports that the strictly Catholic El Salvador operates “anti-abortion laws that make no exception for rape, incest or the health of the mother.”
According to Amnesty International, three out of eight maternal deaths in El Salvador, where abortion is banned, are suicides by pregnant girls under the age of 19.
Since 1998 when El Salvador prohibited all abortions, even if pregnancy results from rape or incest; or if it poses threat to a woman’s life, the woman must carry the pregnancy to term, Amnesty said.
“It is estimated that between 1998 and 2013, more than 600 women were jailed after being accused of having had an abortion,” says the Centre for Reproductive Rights.
The situation in El Salvador was not always so drastic, The Independent reports. “Up until 1998, the law permitted abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the health of the woman was threatened.
“But the legislation was changed under pressure from conservatives in the government and with the support of the Catholic Church.”
See the video of Teodora Vásquez’s trial, courtesy AFP: