El Salvador court jails woman 30 years for having abortion


A court in El Salvador has upheld a 30-year jail term handed down on a woman who had a miscarriage over 10 years ago, Independent UK reports.

The convict, Teodora Vasquez, allegedly had a stillbirth in 2007 but was jailed over abortion-related charges, denying her appeal over the sentence.

The 37-year-old Vasquez who has already been in prison for nearly 10 years, was denied her appeal over the sentence when the appeal came up for hearing.

She told the court that she had called an ambulance and collapsed after suffering severe abdominal pain while heavily pregnant in 2007. She alleged that she awoke to find that her baby had died and police officers who arrested her, accused her of inducing an abortion.

Her lawyer, Victor Hugo Mata, told the court that there were glaring errors in her first trial.

A tribunal in the strictly Catholic country, turned down the appeal filed on behalf of Vasquez by Mata, saying that the evidence against her had not been categorically disproven.

Abortion is illegal in all cases in El Salvador and carries a maximum sentence of eight years. However, women suspected of committing abortions are often charged with aggravated murder instead as the case of Ms Vasquez.

The appeal was heard by the same judges who sentenced Ms Vasquez 10 years ago, prompting criticism from human rights groups.

Last year Amnesty International presented 250,000 signatures to the Salvadoran government demanding Ms Vasquez be freed.

The agency described El Salvador as ‘a nation known as the worst place in the world for women’s reproductive rights, and a nation where anti-abortion laws make no exception for rape, incest or the health of the mother.’

El Salvadorean laws prohibit all forms of abortions, even if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest; or if it poses threats to a woman’s life, the woman must carry the pregnancy to term.

It is estimated that between 1998 and 2013, more than 600 women were jailed after being accused of having had an abortion.