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  • El Salvador: Woman Released After Facing Charges for Abortion

    | Photo: El Pais

Published 3 October 2019

In El Salvador, abortion is considered aggravated homicide with a jail time of up to 30 years.

A court in El Salvador declared innocent another young woman, Yessenia Bonilla, of aggravated homicide charges for allegedly aborting her fetus back in November 2018.

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The 20-year-old mother of two children from a rural eastern region of El Salvador, faced trial in the Court of Justice, accused aggravated homicide for allegedly terminating her pregnancy last year.

Bonilla was arrested in January and has been held for nine months at the Ilopango Women's Readaptation Center, a women's prison.

Her lawyer, Teresa Delgado, explained to EFE that Judge Jose Cristobal Reyes "did not find, in the evidence presented by the prosecutor's office, any evidence determining Yessenia's guilt," so acquitted her.

According to Bonilla's defense attorney, the women suffered an "out-of-hospital" delivery on Nov. 9, 2018 in her home where she was with her two small children. "Seeing that the newborn did not breathe she went to seek help and told the police what happened," Delgado explains.

The lawyer added to reporters that the police officers informed the prosecutor's office that began an investigation against the defendant for aggravated homicide because the newborn died for not having immediate medical help.

Teresa Bonilla joins the group of women who have been released this year in El Salvador, prosecuted for aggravated homicide or attempted homicide in connection to their unintentional abortions.

In August, 21-year-old Evelyn Hernandez, who was also charged with aggravated homicide and sentenced to 40 years in jail, was discharged for not purposefully terminating her pregnancy. The prosecutor’s office appealed the decision last month.

In El Salvador, women who suffer pregnancy complications can often lead to spontaneous abortions and stillbirths. Owing to the nation's draconian abortion laws, they are usually suspected of having had an abortion, which is prohibited under any circumstances.

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