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Wed Nov 28, 2012, 06:27 AM

Why is El Salvador Cruelly Punishing Women Who Need Medical Help?

Why is El Salvador Cruelly Punishing Women Who Need Medical Help?
By Larry Ladutke
November 27, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Ireland is not the only nation with strict abortion laws that cost women their lives.

Since 1998, El Salvador has had a total ban on abortions, under any circumstances. In March of this year, Salvadoran police arrested a woman (“Mery”) when she sought medical treatment after a clandestine abortion. The medical providers reported her to the police—as required by law. In addition to the physical complications associated with the abortion, she showed clear signs of emotional distress and panic.

Instead of providing “Mery” with counseling, the authorities sentenced her to two years in El Salvador’s violent, overcrowded prison system. Her emotional state deteriorated and she tried to kill herself in September 2012. Prison authorities responded by handcuffing “Mery” to a bed in a psychiatric hospital and placing an armed guard in her room. Amnesty is especially concerned because she has been cut off from both the psychological help she needs as well as legal counsel.

El Salvador has severely punished women who did not even have an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) recently brought an international case against El Salvador on behalf of “Manuela” and her family. Salvadoran courts sentenced “Manuela” to 30 years in prison following a still birth resulting from emergency obstetric complications. “Manuela” suffered from cancer, but the authorities failed to ensure she received proper medical treatment following her sentence. “Manuela” died in prison, leaving behind two young children.


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