El Salvador abortion ban is torture, kills women: Amnesty

Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:06am EDT
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By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - El Salvador’s total ban on abortion is killing women and girls, forcing them to undergo dangerous backstreet abortions and landing them in jail, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Abortion has been illegal in the Central American nation since 1998 - even in cases of rape, incest, a severely deformed fetus or when the woman's life is in danger.

Amnesty said the abortion ban was indirectly a leading cause of maternal deaths in El Salvador and had led to the wrongful imprisonment of scores of women and girls for inducing abortions when in fact they had suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, or complications during pregnancy or birth.

“The ban has created discrimination against and criminalization of women," Erika Guevara, Americas director at Amnesty International, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview in the capital San Salvador.

"Most women come from the poorest sectors of society and they don’t have access to reproductive healthcare and contraception,” she added. “Women have died going through a clandestine abortion.”

El Salvador is one of seven Latin American countries that outlaw abortion without exception, and 95 percent of all abortions carried out in the region are considered unsafe, according to the World Health Organization.

“Restrictive abortion laws are a major contributor to unsafe abortion,” Amnesty’s report said.

Worldwide, unsafe abortions kill an estimated 47,000 women a year, and deaths due to complications from unsafe abortions account for nearly 13 percent of all maternal deaths, the WHO says.   Continued...

A member of Amnesty International attends a demonstration outside the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, May 29, 2013, in support of a 22-year-old Salvadoran woman identified as Beatriz, who is seeking an abortion.  REUTERS/Henry Romero