Woman Jailed for Having a Miscarriage As a Teen Is Finally Released After 7 Years

One of the most painful experiences a woman can ever go through is a miscarriage. It's not just the physical pain -- it's the wrenching of her soul as she loses what is already a child to her. Although it seems impossible to comprehend, there are women in the world whose suffering is made that much greater -- when they are jailed for the "murder" of their unborn baby.

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One Salvadoran woman was just released from prison this week, after serving seven years of a 30-year sentence -- for the crime of fetal murder after suffering from a miscarriage. Earlier this week, she was denied the pardon, but thankfully some members of the country's Congress had a change of heart.

Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez was only 18 years old when she suffered complications with her second pregnancy in 2007. She was sentenced to 30 years in jail after authorities wrongly suspected her of terminating the pregnancy via elective abortion.

El Salvador has some of the harshest laws surrounding abortion in the entire world. According to Amnesty International, they criminalize abortion on "all grounds, even when a woman or girl's life or health is in danger and in cases of rape. Women and girls suspected of having illegal abortions are also often cruelly and deliberately charged with homicide, as in Guadalupe's case."

This is absolutely horrific, and although Guadalupe is free, at least 15 other women remain behind bars still on similar charges. But because of this decision, they have some hope that they didn't before.

America's Director at Amnesty International, Erika Guevara-Rosas, said, "With this decision, El Salvador has undone a terrible injustice. Guadalupe should have never been jailed in the first place. This release is a triumph of justice and a result of the tireless work by local human rights activists."

She continued, "This decision must mark a turning point for El Salvador’s retrograde laws which punish women and girls when having medical complications during their pregnancies. It is time for the authorities to review the sentences against all women imprisoned for pregnancy-related complications and end its criminalization of women and girls and its heinous anti-abortion ban."

This is absolutely atrocious, and it breaks my heart at the suffering incurred by these women. Even if they did have abortions, why are they being made to suffer even more greatly? I'm willing to bet they are young, poor, and uneducated. If anyone should go to jail over an abortion in a country where it's illegal, it should be the practitioners who provide them.

But regardless of how you feel about legalized abortion, I think we can all agree that jailing a woman for losing her unborn baby is one of the grossest miscarriages of justice ever heard of.

Does this story make you throw up in your mouth a little bit?

 

Image via Michael Coghlan/Flickr

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