A woman in El Salvador has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after she suffered an obstetric emergency that ended her pregnancy.
The woman, identified only to the public as “Esme,” was sentenced for aggravated homicide. Emse had already been in custody for two years following her arrest after receiving medical care in a public hospital.
“The judge acted with partiality, giving greater weight to the version offered by the Attorney General’s Office, which was loaded with stigmas and gender stereotypes,” a representative for The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion said.
They are planning to appeal the decision.
El Salvador bans abortion in all cases. If a pregnancy is terminated, the woman can be sentenced to jail for up to eight years. Sadly, in El Salvador, judges often find women guilty of the crime of aggravated homicide instead. They are sentenced to up to 50 years in prison in these cases.
“Esme’s sentencing is a devastating step backward for the progress that has been made in the unlawful criminalization of women suffering obstetric emergencies in El Salvador,” said Paula Avila-Guillen, international human rights lawyer and executive director of the Women’s Equality Center told The Guardian.
In December, President Nayib Bukele’s government freed three Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 30 years after suffering obstetric emergencies. At the time, 17 Salvadoran women activists were behind bars under the country’s restrictive abortion laws.
Three other countries in Latin America ban abortion in all cases, even when the life of the mother is at risk and in cases of rape—Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
“We have seen repeatedly throughout Latin America that when abortion is criminalized, women are made to prove that any one of the wide range of obstetric emergencies they experience were in fact emergencies. When they can’t or don’t have the resources to do so or are simply not believed, they face imprisonment,” Avila-Guillen added. “Everyone in the US should have their eyes on El Salvador right now to understand exactly what a future without Roe entails.”