El Salvador Releases Three Women Who Were Wrongfully Imprisoned for Obstetric Emergencies

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San Salvador (PRESS RELEASE)—The Center for Reproductive Rights celebrates the government of El Salvador's decision to commute the prison sentences of three women who were wrongfully imprisoned after suffering obstetric emergencies. Alba Lorena Rodríguez, Cinthia Marcela Rodríguez, and María del Tránsito Orellana Martínez have been released today, ahead of International Women’s Day.

Alba Lorena Rodríguez is one of nine women represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its local partner, Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Alba was 21 years old and had two daughters when learned she was pregnant for the third time in 2009. During her regular prenatal appointment, Alba told her doctor that she had twice experienced bleeding and was assured that her pregnancy was fine. A few weeks later, Alba suffered a miscarriage and sought help, only to be accused of having an abortion and was later accused of aggravated homicide.  Alba was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was denied pardon in 2014, as well as a request to have her sentence commuted in 2015.

“Freedom for these women who have been sentenced to prison for felonies they did not commit is just one of the steps that El Salvador has to take to guarantee women’s rights. This wonderful news helps us remind the world that El Salvador has very discriminatory legislation against women because a woman can suffer an obstetric emergency and be sent to prison for aggravated homicide,” said Catalina Martínez Coral, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Center for Reproductive Rights

“El Salvador continues to ignore its international responsibilities which call for all countries to eliminate every form of discrimination against women and to recognize that forcing women to continue a pregnancy that puts her life or health at risk is cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.  El Salvador must make stronger efforts to guarantee that reproductive rights are recognized as human rights in the country,” added Martínez Coral.