El Salvador: Government must approve bill to decriminalise 'sickeningly unjust' abortion ban

Teodora del Carmen Vasquez was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering a miscarriage, she was freed this year. © Capa

At least 23 women remain in prison under the total abortion ban

The Government of El Salvador has just one week left to approve a bill which would decriminalise abortion before the current legislative cycle closes at the end of April.

The reform to the criminal code would also allow access to abortion services in cases of rape, sexual abuse of a minor, when the health or life of the pregnant person is at risk, or in the case of fatal foetal diagnosis.

Ahead of the deadline, Amnesty International is calling on El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to seize the historic opportunity and pass the bill.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“Having wasted several opportunities to decriminalise abortion in recent weeks, El Salvador’s lawmakers must act now to pass this landmark reform, which would save the lives of countless women and girls.

“The horrendous total ban on abortion violates the right to life, health and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment.

“The State must stop criminalising women and girls and immediately and unconditionally release all those imprisoned for having an abortion or facing pregnancy-related complications. They should not have to spend another day in jail as a result of a sickeningly unjust law that violates their sexual and reproductive rights.”

El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world where abortion is still banned under all circumstances. At least 23 women remain in prison under the total abortion ban following pregnancy-related complications.

Women’s human rights groups in El Salvador have been working tirelessly to promote this bill and secure its passing. Last month Amnesty delivered a petition with 209,051 signatures from people in 57 countries supporting the bill.

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