UK urges El Salvador to change 'draconian' abortion laws
Women can face 50 year jail term for suffering a miscarriage in El Salvador warn Amnesty
The UK is one of nine countries which, during a United Nations session last night, urged El Salvador to change its “draconian” abortion laws – laws which Amnesty International considers to be institutionalised violence, torture and ill-treatment against women and girls.
During a Universal Periodic Review – a mechanism at the United Nations Human Rights Council which reviews the human rights obligations and commitments of UN Member States every four and a half years – El Salvador was criticised for its repressive abortion laws.
Abortion is banned in all circumstances in El Salvador and women and girls can be imprisoned if found guilty of having an abortion, while medical practitioners face prison sentences of up to 12 years if found to be providing access to abortion services.
A recent Amnesty report documented how in some cases women who have had abortions or miscarriages have been prosecuted and jailed for up to 50 years for “homicide” or “aggravated homicide”.
El Salvador was called upon at the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to reform the laws that bar access to abortion in all circumstances and send women to prison for having miscarriages or clandestine abortions. Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden along with the UK called on the Central American country to reform its abortion laws. A further 12 countries have raised concerns about continued discrimination against women in the country.
Amnesty International’s My Body My Rights Campaign Manager Naomi McAuliffe said:
“We have seen how these draconian abortion laws are devastating the lives of women and girls in El Salvador. Women are dying due to clandestine abortions, while others have been criminalised for suffering a miscarriage – sometimes jailed for up to 50 years. It’s time for this to change.
“Abortion must be decriminalised, and women and girls must be able to access an abortion at the very least in cases where the pregnancy poses a risk to the life or the physical or mental health of the woman or girl, where the foetus will be unable to survive outside the womb, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.”
Amnesty is also calling upon El Salvador to ensure that women have access to contraceptive information and services.
El Salvador will now have time to consider the recommendations put forward and will announce which of them it will adopt in March next year.
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