UN rights experts urge El Salvador to pardon women jailed for pregnancy-related complications
UN rights experts urge El Salvador to pardon women jailed for pregnancy-related complications

[JURIST] A group of UN human right experts on Wednesday urged [press release] El Salvador to pardon all women jailed for illegal abortions as a result of pregnancy complications or rape. Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana was convicted of aggravated assault after suffering a miscarriage after being raped at age 18. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008, but she received a pardon on January 15. The pardon came after a judicial review that determined her due process rights were violated. The UN argues Aldana’s case “must mark a turning point” for review of the sentences of “all women jailed for pregnancy-related complications.” The experts urge the authorities to repeal legislation which criminalises abortion in all circumstances, as El Salvador has had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, enacted in 1997.

In May 2013 the Supreme Court of El Salvador [official website, in Spanish] refused [text] to reconsider that country’s complete ban on abortions, despite international encouragement [JURIST, report] to do so. The court denied the request of doctors to perform a therapeutic abortion on a woman pregnant with a fetus developing without a brain where the woman’s life was threatened by kidney failure and lupus symptoms aggravated by her pregnancy. After the ruling, El Salvador’s health ministry allowed [text] the woman’s doctors to perform a C-section in order to save her life because at 26 weeks, her pregnancy had advanced to a stage not regulated by the country’s strict abortion laws.