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The failure to pass a reform to decriminalize abortion during El Salvador’s latest legislative cycle is a sickening step backwards for human rights, said Amnesty International today.

“El Salvador’s lawmakers have blood on their hands after declining to even discuss the reform to decriminalize abortion. This desperately needed bill would have saved the lives of countless women and girls who are needlessly put at risk by the total ban on abortion. The wasted opportunity to end this injustice is a terrible blow to human rights in El Salvador,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly missed several opportunities to discuss the reform to decriminalize abortion during the legislative cycle that effectively came to a close at the end of Thursday’s session.

El Salvador is one of very few countries in the world where abortion is still banned under all circumstances. At least 23 women and girls remain in prison under the total abortion ban.

The proposed reform to the criminal code would have decriminalized abortion in cases of rape; sexual abuse of a minor; when the health or life of the pregnant person is at risk; or in cases of fatal fetal diagnosis.

This month Amnesty International delivered a petition with 268,630 signatures from people in 60 countries calling for El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to decriminalize abortion under these circumstances.

“The state cannot go on criminalizing women and girls and violating their sexual and reproductive rights. The Salvadoran authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those imprisoned for having an abortion or facing pregnancy-related complications.”

Read more:

El Salvador: Lawmakers must approve bill to decriminalize abortion (News, 23 April 2018)

El Salvador: Government must decriminalize abortion following release of woman jailed for stillbirth (News, 14 March 2018)

El Salvador: Release of woman jailed for stillbirth must signal end of total abortion ban (News, 15 February 2018)

El Salvador: On the brink of death: violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador (Report, 25 September 2014)