On Thursday, the Salvadoran Citizen Group for the Abortion Decriminalization (ACDA) welcomed that a 33-year-old woman who suffered a medical complication while pregnant was released after serving a decade in jail for attempted murder.
The woman, only known as Jacqueline, sought medical help for an obstetric complication in 2011. Although her baby survived, she was arrested on suspicion of attempted abortion and condemned to 15 years in jail.
"Her release confirms the path to freedom for all women criminalized by abortion and obstetric emergencies,” the ACDA President Morena Herrera said, lamenting that Jacqueline was separated from her newborn daughter and eight-year-old son when imprisoned.
Salvadorian lawmakers voted to ban abortion without exception in April 1997. Since then, at least 182 women who suffered an obstetric emergency have being prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide.
The anti-abortion law has mainly affected poor, young women from rural areas with limited access to the healthcare system. In many cases, prosecutors and judges have argued that these women’s failure to save their pregnancy amounted to murder.
Lawyers and activists have worked to free the convicted women by pursuing pardons, sentence reduction, or access to education and work programs that can lead to an early release. Since Dec. 2021, ten women have been freeded due to their efforts. Other three, however, are still in prison.
“I warned lawmakers who passed the anti-abortion law that their decision will end the presumption of innocence for pregnant women, which is exactly what happened,” Herrera stressed.