Where Abortion is Outlawed

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

A teenage girl named Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz was sentenced to 30 years in a prison in El Salvador. Her crime? No, she did not commit murder, arson or embezzlement of a huge amount of money. She had a stillborn child as a result of having been repeatedly raped by a gang-banger. Because under Salvadoran law a stillborn child or seeking an abortion is tantamount to murder, Hernandez was imprisoned. In El Salvador, abortion is outlawed in all circumstances—even in the case of rape, incest, or even to save the life of the mother. If this sounds medieval……..it is! Sadly, Hernandez, a poor young lady of only 19 years old from the rural community of Cuscatlan in eastern El Salvador, is far from being the only one who has been thrown into a hellish prison for losing a baby. There are 17 other women in El Salvador who are now languishing in prison for either having miscarriages or abortions.

El Salvador is not the only country with such a draconian anti-abortion law. Five other countries in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean have also completely outlawed abortion under any and all circumstances. These countries are the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname. From 1998 to the year 2013, more than 600 women in these countries have been imprisoned for having an abortion or a miscarriage. Currently 25 women are still in prison in these countries for either having had an abortion or a miscarriage. Amnesty International as well as many women’s rights organizations in these countries have totally condemned these laws and how women who have been victims of these laws have been treated. Even the United Nations had condemned these draconian anti-abortion laws.

Recently, there has been a move in the Salvadoran legislature to amend the law to at least allow abortions for those who are victims of rape, incest, and to protect them from any judicial punishment from violence done against them. This legislation is stalled in the Salvadoran legislature, and hopefully those who oppose these changes will not be successful in stopping them. Many, many Salvadorans are very much up-in-arms against the anti-abortion law, and they know it is making their country look bad. They know this law is wrong, and there have been demonstrations throughout El Salvador against this law. I hope that there will be more than enough of a mass movement that will finally help change this law and protect women from this horrid judicial impunity.

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