My Body My Rights

My Body My Rights campaign
© Amnesty International

El Salvador has one of the world's most punitive abortion laws, with abortion a crime even when a woman's life is at risk.

Every year, thousands of women and girls are being driven to the brink of death by the country's absolute ban on abortion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 50 years for ‘aggravated homicide’.

Between 2000 and 2011, 129 women were prosecuted for abortion-related crimes in El Salvador and 17 are currently serving prion sentences.

Many of these women suffered naturally occurring pregnancy-related complications. All are from low income backgrounds so have not been able to afford decent medical care and legal advice.

By refusing abortion to all, El Salvador denies its women and girls their right to life and adequate healthcare. The ban reflects the idea that those who rape or abuse women and girls in El Salvador can go unpunished, while their victims are denied all rights and prevented from making decisions that affect their own health, safety and livelihood.

We launched our global My Body My Rights campaign earlier this year, highlighting the increasing repression of sexual and reproductive rights in many countries around the world that prioritise repressive policies over human rights and basic freedoms.

As part of the campaign, we highlighted the situation in El Salvador with the release of a report, ‘On the brink of death: violence against women and the abortion ban in El Salvador’ and an online action calling on the country’s President to decriminalise abortion on all counts, release all women jailed for pregnancy-related ‘offences’ and tackle the deep-seated discrimination against women and girls that restricts their every move.

As part of the campaign in the UK, we are also highlighting the impact of restrictive legislation on women's rights closer to home, focusing on the situation in Northern Ireland; where abortion is not governed by the same legislation as applies to the rest of the UK.

In Northern Ireland it is a criminal offence for a woman to have an unlawful abortion, or for any other person to carry out an unlawful abortion. Abortions are only permitted in certain circumstances, including when the life of the mother is in grave danger.

We are campaigning in Northern Ireland to change laws, policy and practice on access to abortion in Northern Ireland to at least bring it up to the bare minimum of international standards.