Manuela, a 33-year-old Salvadoran woman of low socio-economic resources, died of cancer while serving an unjust 30-year prison sentence for the crime of aggravated homicide after having suffered an obstetric emergency. During this time, she did not receive appropriate treatment for the cancer (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) which afflicted her. Manuela’s basic rights were violated by the health system, the police, and the justice system, resulting in an unjust imprisonment for a crime she did not commit. Unfortunately, Manuela’s case is symbolic of a greater problem that exists in El Salvador: the imprisonment of innocent women in processes that violate their rights to due process, equality, and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (among others), all of which are a consequence of the absolute criminalization of abortion in this country.
On March 21, 2012, the Center and the Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local presented Manuela’s case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The case reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on March 10 and 12 of 2021. With the support of the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, we asked the Court to issue a ruling on behalf of Manuela’s family so the Salvadoran State can take public responsibility for not guaranteeing Manuela’s right to life and health and to compensate her family for their loss and suffering.
Below is a fact sheet about the Manuela vs. El Salvador case. Additional information on the case, including case filings, can be found on the case page here.