Call on the government of El Salvador to release women imprisoned for pregnancy complications

Stand with RH Reality Check, the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, the Salvadoran Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion and 6,788 other signers to tell the government of El Salvador to grant pardons for 17 Salvadoran women imprisoned for pregnancy complications.

Background: Because of El Salvador’s absolute ban on all abortions, seventeen Salvadoran women who live in circumstances of poverty and marginalization are unjustly imprisoned as a result of miscarriages, stillbirths, or other obstetrical complications they suffered without medical attention. When they arrived at public healthcare facilities, often hemorrhaging and unconscious, they were accused of provoking an abortion and turned over to police. Frequently they were arrested and taken directly from the hospital to the jail. Based on a constitutional amendment declaring that life begins at conception, prosecutors amended charges to aggravated homicide, and they received prison sentences of up to 40 years.

A careful review of their court files revealed that prosecutors failed to present any evidence that they had committed any wrongdoing or had any responsibility for the deaths of their fetuses or newborns. The women were denied their rights to due process, a presumption of innocence, a standard of reasonable doubt, and an effective legal defense.

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