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  • Figueroa Marroquín was released from the prison Tuesday after the Ministry of Justice commuted her sentence. 

    Figueroa Marroquín was released from the prison Tuesday after the Ministry of Justice commuted her sentence.  | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 March 2018
Opinion

In 1998, the Central American country passed a draconian law preventing women to abort under any circumstance, even if it was to save her own life. 

El Salvador's Supreme Court has commuted the 30-year sentence of Maira Veronica Figueroa Marroquín after 14 years in prison for aggravated murder after she suffered a stillbirth. 

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Freed At Last: El Salvador Woman Jailed Over 'Abortion'

Figueroa Marroquín was released from prison Tuesday after the Ministry of Justice commuted her sentence. 

Nancy Northup, president, and CEO of New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Guardian, "While we celebrate Maira’s release today, we condemn the government of El Salvador for not acknowledging the lack of due process and failing to recognize her innocence.

"It is inconceivable that Maira spent almost 15 years in prison for experiencing a pregnancy complication. Although she has been released, her conviction has not been overturned and she continues to be guilty in the eyes of the law." 

The center also launched a campaign, 'Las17,' a reference to the 17 women who were sentenced for up to 40 years in jail between 1999 and 2011, for reported miscarriages, with most women being charged with aggravated homicide. 

Earlier in February, another Salvadoran woman, 34-year-old chef Teodora Vasquez was released from prison after serving 10 years as part of a 30-year prison term for allegedly aborting her child. Prosecutors in the case have maintained that Vasquez strangled her baby after it was born, but her lawyers said she suffered a stillbirth.  

"The Centre for Reproductive Rights will continue to shed light on the human rights violations caused by El Salvador's abortion ban," Catalina Martínez Coral, the center's director for Latin America and the Caribbean, told the NewsHub.

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IACHR Urges El Salvador to Release Women Jailed Over Abortion

"We stand with our global and local partners, and will not rest until abortion law reform is a reality, and women's reproductive rights are protected and respected." 

El Salvador has one of the most stringent laws for women. In 1998, the Central American country passed a draconian law preventing women from aborting under any circumstance, even if it was to save their own lives, or in the cases of rape or incest.

Scores of women have been criminalized and are behind the bars under the law, including, cases of miscarriage, stillbirth and other pregnancy-related health emergencies.

According to the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto (Citizens’ Coalition for the Decriminalization of Abortion), an El Salvador-based advocacy group, between 2000 and 2011, nearly 129 women were prosecuted for abortion-related crimes in the country, with 23 of these convictions being for receiving an illegal abortion and 26 for homicide.

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