Kathy Bougher is an educator, social justice activist and writer living in Denver, Colorado. Her activism focuses on feminist questions in the U.S. and Central America, immigration and education of immigrant students. Her solidarity work with Salvadoran feminists encompasses more than twenty years.
"This is not the 'Holy Inquisition!' This is the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador in the 21st century, with sufficient knowledge to make decisions," said Lorena Peña, the current president of the Legislative Assembly, when introducing a bill to decriminalize abortion in some circumstances.
Under El Salvador’s current law, when women are accused of abortion, prosecutors can—but do not always—increase the charges to aggravated homicide, thereby increasing their prison sentence. This new bill, advocates say, would heighten the likelihood that those charged with abortion will spend decades behind bars.
Maria Teresa Rivera was convicted of aggravated homicide in 2012 following an obstetrical complication during an unattended birth the previous year, which had resulted in the death of her fetus. On May 20, Judge Martín Rogel Zepeda overturned her conviction. Now, however, a legal threat could return her to prison.
In El Salvador, Maria Teresa Rivera was convicted of aggravated homicide after experiencing an obstetrical emergency. She is scheduled to have a new day in court on May 11, when she will argue that there were judicial errors in her original trial.
The Zika virus, its potential link to microcephaly and other complications, and the inadequate government responses to it so far all bring into sharper focus the threats girls and women already face in the country.
The country’s Ministry of Health recommended last week that women should avoid becoming pregnant until 2018. But local feminist groups say this guidance doesn’t reflect the needs of Salvadoran women, especially where reproductive health is concerned.
Earlier this month, Christina Quintanilla, who spent four years in prison after experiencing a miscarriage, testified in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the effects of the El Salvador's total abortion ban on the country's women.
In El Salvador, where abortion is illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and maternal danger, on-the-ground feminist organizations have been targeted by mainstream news media outlets publishing articles based on the Center for Medical Progress’ deceptive undercover videos.
Carmelina Pérez, a Honduran woman living in El Salvador, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2014 after suffering what appeared to be a miscarriage. But last week, she was acquitted of all charges, setting a possible new precedent in the fight for reproductive justice in El Salvador.
Last week, Rewire met with six of the 17 Salvadoran women imprisoned for what amount to pregnancy complications. The women discussed the challenges they face, including harassment from other inmates and overcrowded conditions.
Last week, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador voted to grant a pardon to Guadalupe, who was charged with aggravated homicide after an obstetrical complication she suffered in 2007. But 15 of the women known as “Las 17” are still in prison—and activists hope increased international attention will spur the Salvadoran government into taking just action.
The El Salvador national legislature had the opportunity on January 16 to pardon a woman named Guadalupe, who was convicted of aggravated homicide against her newborn when, in fact, she had suffered obstetrical complications. Her petition fell one vote short of approval, but the story isn't over.
When determining whether to pardon the Salvadoran women incarcerated on abortion-related charges, the country's National Criminology Council gave "unfavorable" recommendations for 12 of them based on factors such as "scarce economic resources."
The fundamentalists “want to silence us, but it is not working," said Morena Herrera, president of the group leading the "Freedom for the 17" campaign, which seeks to free from prison 17 women unjustly incarcerated on abortion-related charges, in an interview with Rewire.
High-profile ultra-conservative Salvadoran right-to-life forces have launched a vicious attack in response to the slow but significant gains achieved by the Salvadoran feminist campaign to secure legal pardons for Las 17, the 17 Salvadoran women unjustly imprisoned on abortion-related charges.
On Tuesday, the plaza in front of the Legislative Assembly in El Salvador blazed with sun and the energy of 200 women and men gathered to demand from the state an accounting of progress made on petitions to pardon 17 women unjustly imprisoned for up to 40 years for what amount to miscarriages, stillbirths, and other obstetric complications.
A Salvadoran feminist organization has launched an international campaign to pressure the government to pardon and free 17 women who suffered complications of pregnancy leading to miscarriage and stillbirth, and who have been imprisoned under the country's total abortion ban.
The story of “Beatriz,” the 22-year-old woman caught in the firestorm of the abortion conflict in El Salvador, no longer appears on the front pages of the country’s newspapers nor on TV nightly news. Beatriz, however, continues to struggle daily.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the highest human rights court in the Americas, handed down Thursday a decision ordering the government of El Salvador to provide Beatriz access to health care that could save her life.
As people take to the streets in support of Beatriz, pressure is mounting on the Supreme Court of El Salvador to finally make a decision granting Beatriz a life-saving abortion. Meanwhile, Beatriz's mother pleads for her daughter's life.