In prison for having a miscarriage

17 women are in prison in El Salvador for having miscarriages or abortions. The Center for Reproductive Justice is campaigning to get them freed.

With one of the world’s most extreme abortion bans, El Salvador prohibits women from receiving an abortion under any circumstance—not in cases of rape or incest, not even to save their lives. Since 1998, dozens of women have been wrongfully criminalized and imprisoned under this law—even when the pregnancy ended due to natural causes. Take action today to pressure the Salvadoran government to release Las 17 in time to go home to their families for the holidays.

It shares some of their stories.

Twenty-nine-year-old Teresa worked in a sweatshop in San Salvador and lived in a working-class neighborhood with her 8-year-old child.

In November 2011, without ever realizing she was pregnant, she went into early labor, giving birth in a toilet. The baby did not survive. Following this trauma, Teresa experienced heavy bleeding and eventually fainted. Her family summoned emergency services. At the hospital, she was reported to the police on suspicion of having induced an abortion.

Despite inconsistencies and lack of proof that Teresa performed an intentional act leading to the miscarriage, she was convicted of murder and condemned to 40 years in prison.

She’s been in prison for over two years. Teresa’s elderly grandmother is currently caring for her young child.

After 11 years in jail, Verónica is not yet halfway through her 30-year sentence.

At age 19, while employed as a domestic worker, Verónica became pregnant. Shortly before reaching full term in her pregnancy, she experienced an obstetric emergency that resulted in a miscarriage.

Her employers took her to the Chalchuapa Hospital, where she was reported to the police. Without witnesses or any direct proof, Verónica was swiftly convicted of murder. Even the judgment acknowledges the lack of evidence and states, “the motives the subject had for committing [murder] are unknown although it can be deduced that her motivation was to avoid social reproach.”

They’re horror stories, one after the other.


  1. brett says

    There’s a huge element of classism to it, too. It’s only women in the public hospitals who are getting railroaded into prison over their miscarriages – I’ve heard there are tons of abortions that happen in the private hospitals, but nothing gets done about those because the women getting them have money.

  2. johnthedrunkard says

    ‘Became pregnant?’ And what is that supposed to mean. Famously, Frank Sinatra said of a heckler that he ‘became punched.’ Passive voice anyone?

  3. says

    ‘Became pregnant?’ And what is that supposed to mean.

    Exactly what it says. Have you drunk so much that you’ve become unable to read?

  4. =8)-DX says

    @2 johnthedrunkard says

    ‘Became pregnant?’ And what is that supposed to mean

    Well that means that one day you aren’t pregnant and then one day you are. Usually this happens when you ovulate, sperm successfully fertilises the egg and that implants in the lining your uterus. Becoming pregnant is pretty much always something passive, and as far as I can remember, hormonally the start of the process is instigated by the newly implanting egg, fighting not to be ejected by your immune system.

    Having sex is (usually) something active, I’ll grant that, but the adults who read this blog are usually able to distinguish different parts of the “how is babby made” process.

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