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The sentence against a 19-year-old rape survivor of 30 years in prison on charges of “aggravated homicide” after she suffered pregnancy-related complications, is a terrifying example of the need for El Salvador to urgently repeal its retrograde anti-abortion law, Amnesty International said.

“El Salvador’s anti-abortion law is causing nothing but pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families. It goes against human rights and it has no place in the country or anywhere,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“The total ban on abortion in El Salvador violates women’s rights to life, health, privacy, due process and freedom from discrimination, violence and torture and other ill-treatment. All women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or experiencing obstetric emergencies should be immediately and unconditionally released, and the law must be repealed without delay.”

Evelyn Beatriz was admitted to a health center in Cojutepeque, north of San Salvador, on April 6, 2016 after she fainted at home. She was in labor but unaware she was pregnant. Local organizations say Evelyn had been raped months earlier but that she had not reported it to the authorities due to fear. Staff at the hospital reported Evelyn to the authorities.

She was taken to court and on July 5, 2017, was sentenced to 30 years in jail for an “aggravated homicide.” Her lawyers are appealing the sentence.

Background Information

Abortion has been criminalized in all circumstances in El Salvador since 1998, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or when the life or health 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 “aggravated murder” with sentences of up to 40 years’ imprisonment.