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The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador has a historic opportunity to reject the criminalization of abortion and protect the health and lives of millions of women throughout the country, said Amnesty International in light of a debate which could result in the first steps being taken towards the end of criminalization of abortion in the country.

“The total ban on abortion is, quite simply, a form of torture which puts the lives of millions of women and girls at risk every day,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Abortion has been criminalized in all circumstances in El Salvador since 1998, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or where the life of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk. Many women and girls have lost their lives or been imprisoned due to the total abortion ban.  

The current legal framework forces women and girls to resort to unsafe abortions to save their lives, and creates an atmosphere of suspicion around women who miscarry or experience other obstetric emergencies. As a result, women who experience complications during pregnancy have been prosecuted and convicted on charges of ‘induced abortion’, with sentences of up to 40 years imprisonment.

Over 50,000 Amnesty International activists sent letters from Germany, Canada, Spain, USA, Norway and Sweden, among other countries, calling on the Salvadorian authorities to put an end to the criminalization of abortion and comply with their international obligations in terms of human rights.