In El Salvador, Rape Survivor Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison After Stillbirth

El Salvador is one of five countries to prohibit abortions in all cases, including for life-endangering pregnancies and pregnancies resulting from rape. In July a 19-year-old rape survivor was convicted of “aggravated homicide” and sentenced to 30 years in prison after delivering a stillbirth at home. The state, whose politics and laws are highly influenced by the Catholic hierarchy, decided that her failure to seek prenatal care amounted to homicide of the fetus. Her defense attorneys plan to appeal the ruling, with one calling the ruling “a decision based on morality, not the law or justice.” While human rights groups and the UN are urging El Salvador to decriminalize abortion, women and girls in the country continue to live under one of the harshest antiabortion laws in the world. “There is a stigma and fear in reporting rape,” says Dr. Mario Soriano of the Salvadoran Ministry of Health. Salvadoran government figures show that more than a third of maternal deaths in the country are the result of suicide among pregnant women under 19.

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