30-Year Sentence Lifted For Woman In El Salvador Abortion Case

An El Salvador woman had her 30-year sentence lifted after being convicted of aggravated homicide in an abortion case that took place in 2008, the Guardian reports.

At the age of 18, an El Salvador woman by the name of Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez Aldana gave birth to a stillborn baby in her employer’s home. Guadalupe – a live-in domestic servant – informed police that her pregnancy was a result of a rape that occurred in 2007 by her employer, says Guadalupe’s attorney Dennis Munoz.

When Guadalupe began experiencing heavy bleeding, she was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors believed the miscarriage was suspicious, according to Reuters.

In the country of El Salvador, it is required of all medical staff to report any suspicious activity regarding their patients. It is also unlawful to execute an abortion under any circumstance. According to officials, there have been 129 abortion cases in the country of El Salvador.

When the hospital reported Guadalupe to El Salvador police, she was taken into custody and later charged with abortion, but her charge intensified to aggravated homicide and she was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.

After serving seven of 30 years behind bars, Guadalupe was released from prison on Wednesday due to an approved recommendation that Guadalupe be acquitted. The recommendation was sent to El Salvador’s legislative assembly.

Courts say there wasn’t enough evidence to determine the baby’s cause of death, which raised “reasonable doubts” about the case.

Paula Avila, an attorney who is an advocate for abortion rights, spoke to NPR about Guadalupe’s 30-year lifted sentence as well as her release.

“This is the most significant news that we have received from Salvador in the 15 years of work we have been doing there. This is the first window of hope that some of the other women will be released. It’s a huge victory for all the women and girls who suffer as a result of this law.”

The regional director for Latin American and the Caribbean, Mónica Arango Olaya, also gave her insight about the approved recommendation to exonerate Guadalupe and the El Salvador abortion case.

“El Salvador has finally heard the chorus of human rights advocates across the globe calling for the release of Las 17.

“For decades, El Salvador has blatantly violated the fundamental human rights of these women and countless others. We stand with ‘Las 17,’ Agrupación Ciudadana and our global partners in this fight to seek justice for all Salvadoran women.”

[Image via NPR]