Global Health Womens Rights

Human Rights Group Seeks Pardon for Salvadoran Women Imprisoned for Miscarriages

Human rights groups are calling for the pardon of 15 women imprisoned in El Salvador for suffering a miscarriage.

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The women were jailed for attempting or inducing abortion, which is illegal in El Salvador. Amnesty International is now calling on El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly to issue a pardon for these women when their cases come before that body in the coming months. Earlier this year, another woman was granted a pardon by El Salvador’s Parliamentary Assembly after serving seven years of a 30-year sentence for terminating her pregnancy.

“El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world, criminalizing abortion on all grounds, even when a woman or girl’s life or health is in danger and in cases of rape,” Amnesty International said in a statement. “Women and girls suspected of having illegal abortions are also often cruelly and deliberately charged with homicide.”

In the US, Indiana woman Purvi Patel received a 20- year sentence for feticide and child neglect earlier this month after having suffered a miscarriage. The criminal conviction and sentence came despite little evidence that Patel took any abortion-inducing substances or that the fetus lived after being delivered. Patel’s attorney plans to appeal the verdict, and there is a petition to tell Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Legislature to repeal the state’s feticide law, which threatens all pregnant women with criminal prosecution for miscarriage.

“No woman in tragic circumstances should have to endure the cruel and unusual punishment of criminal prosecution for a miscarriage,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Media Resources: Amnesty International 1/22/15; Feminist Newswire 4/2/15; 4/7/15; Center for Reproductive Rights 2015