El Salvador court upholds 30-year jail sentence in stillbirth case

Court upholds Salvadoran woman's 30-year sentence after stillbirth

El Salvador Court Rejects Appeal of Woman Serving 30 Years for Stillborn Baby

Earlier this year the United Nations called on El Salvador to repeal its total abortion ban, which does not allow for exception even in cases of rape, incest, or in instances that could prove fatal for the mother.

Women protest to demand the release of Teodora Vasquez.

A tribunal in El Salvador on Wednesday upheld a 30-year prison sentence for a woman convicted of aggravated homicide in the death of her child who she said was stillborn.

The convict, Teodora Vasquez, allegedly had a stillbirth in 2007 but was jailed over abortion-related charges, denying her appeal over the sentence. She called an ambulance after experiencing strong abdominal pain but fell unconscious due to the pain. Police accused her of inducing a miscarriage.

Her attorneys appealed her sentence, presenting testimony that the baby was born dead. However, women suspected of committing abortions are often charged with aggravated murder instead, as Ms Vasquez was in 2008.

Rights groups supporting Vasquez slammed the verdict.

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Amnesty International, in particular, has been outspoken in advocating for Vasquez to be freed.

Do other countries maintain complete bans on abortion: Besides El Salvador, there are at least seven other countries that uphold an absolute ban on interrupting pregnancies, even in instances of rape and incest, including Chile, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Surinam, Andorra and European Union member state Malta.

Previous year the government, lead by President Sanchez Ceren, proposed a reform to allow abortion in cases of rape and human trafficking or where the woman's life is at risk, but it has not passed congress.

"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", Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty's Americas director, said in a statement. Women who have an abortion, or miscarry in that small Central American country may face up to 50 years in prison.

Under a law that came into force in 1998, all abortions are illegal in El Salvador, regardless of whether the pregnancy resulted from rape or posed a medical threat to the woman.

According to El Salvador-based Alliance for Women's Health and Life, there were at least 147 cases between 2000 and 2014 in which a woman was charged under the abortion law.

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