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News > Latin America

El Salvador: Abortion Reform Less Likely With New Legislature

  • Women protest gender-based violence. According to the UN penalizing abortions amounts to discrimination against women.

    Women protest gender-based violence. According to the UN penalizing abortions amounts to discrimination against women. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 May 2018

The left-wing FMLN party, which proposed the reform, lost eight seats for the 2018-2021 legislature.

The possibility of overturning the total ban on abortion in El Salvador became even less likely Tuesday, as a new right-wing dominated legislature began its three-year term.

El Salvador's Women Rise Up Against Gender Violence, Femicide

In the March 2018 legislative and municipal elections, the conservative and right-wing political party Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) won 37 seats, while the Great Alliance for National Unity (Gana) won ten. Together the groups can block any pro-choice proposals submitted to the legislature.

In a further blow to push for reforms the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which has proposed reforms, lost eight seats for the 2018-2021 legislature. Making attempts to reach the 43 votes necessary for a simple majority in the 83-member legislature impossible.    

Arena and Gana legislators have expressed their absolute opposition to decriminalizing abortion and to debating the issue   

According to activists and rights organizations research shows that restricting access to abortion does not reduce the number of abortions, these continue to be performed under secrecy and in dangerous conditions for the patient.

A reform to El Salvador’s penal code to allow for abortions under specific conditions aimed to protect women’s right to life. According to Salvadoran obstetrician-gynecologist Victoria Ramirez “economic differences between women is what defines if they have or not the right to life.”

In October 2016, representative Lorena Peña of the FMLN introduced a bill to reform article 133-A of the current penal code to allow abortions in four extreme situations: when the woman’s life or health is at risk, when the fetus has no possibility of surviving outside the uterus, when pregnancy was a result of rape, incest, or human trafficking.

Article 133 establishes a two-to-eight-year sentence for abortion in any circumstances for the woman and whoever aids her. However, there are cases where judges categorize the crime as “aggravated murder,”  charges with 30 to 50 years in jail.

That was the case of Teodora Vasquez, who was recently released from prison after serving ten years of a 30-year sentence.  

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