The Total Criminalization of Abortion in El Salvador

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El Salvador has one of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws, banning abortion in all circumstances, even when the pregnancy poses a risk to a woman’s life, health or in cases of rape. The country’s absolute ban puts women and adolescent girls at risk as many of them may resort to illegal and clandestine abortions. Additionally, health professionals believe they are legally obligated to report the patients that they treat for miscarriages and obstetric emergencies in order to avoid criminal persecution. Between 2000 and 2011, 129 Salvadoran women were prosecuted for crimes related to abortion. Women are often charged with homicide, which carries a sentence of up to 50 years in prisons which are overcrowded and unsanitary. The Center’s new fact sheet examines how the Salvadoran’s state’s criminalization of abortion violates women’s rights and calls for El Salvador to meet its obligations under human rights standards in order to protect the life and health of women.