El Salvador justice system sentences young woman accused of abortion to 50 years in prison

Salvadoran Justice has sentenced to 50 years in prison a young woman who suffered an abortion at the age of 19, an unprecedented milestone in the Central American country since it is the first time that the maximum penalty is applied since more than two decades ago the termination of pregnancy was criminalized in all circumstances.

The facts date back to June 2020, when Lesli went to the latrine without knowing that she had gone into labor. “I felt that something was coming out of me,” the young woman recounts, according to the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, which has assured that Lesli was unaware of what was happening.

After asking for help, relatives and neighbors called the Police and the young woman went first to the hospital and then to jail. In fact, she could not attend the first hearing – in which she was remanded in custody – because she still had medical problems arising from the “obstetric emergency”, explained the Association.

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The trial concluded in the first instance on June 29, with a 50-year prison sentence. The organization has announced that it will appeal and has questioned the process itself, pointing out for example that the judge included among his arguments that “mothers are the source of protection of children in any circumstance of life and you were not”.

He has also regretted that some of the evidence presented by the defense was not taken into account and that allude, for example, to the family circumstances of the young woman, the third of seven siblings in a family living in extreme poverty and without access to educational resources.

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“We have tried to close the page of the sad history of El Salvador that unjustly condemns impoverished women for obstetric emergencies, but the Salvadoran state, once again, continues to rage against women who have had no rights or conditions to defend themselves,” lamented the president of the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, Morena Herrera.

El Salvador is one of the most restrictive countries in the world for abortion, in such a way that on numerous occasions the interruption of pregnancy, whether voluntary or not, leads to charges of homicide. The government of Nayib Bukele does not plan to introduce changes in the legislation in the short term.

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