El Salvador: Where women may be jailed for miscarrying


El Salvador has one of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world. A side-effect is that women who suffer miscarriages are sometimes suspected of inducing an abortion – and can even be jailed for murder.

Glenda Xiomara Cruz was crippled by abdominal pain and heavy bleeding in the early hours of 30 October 2012. The 19-year-old from Puerto El Triunfo, eastern El Salvador, went to the nearest public hospital where doctors said she had lost her baby.

It was the first she knew about the pregnancy as her menstrual cycle was unbroken, her weight practically unchanged, and a pregnancy test in May 2012 had been negative.

Four days later she was charged with aggravated murder – intentionally murdering the 38-to-42 week foetus – at a court hearing she was too sick to attend. The hospital had reported her to the police for a suspected abortion.

After two emergency operations and three weeks in hospital she was moved to Ilopango women's prison on the outskirts of the capital San Salvador. Then last month she was sentenced to 10 years in jail, the judge ruling that she should have saved the baby's life.

Written By: Nina Lakhani
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1. This is quite horrendous….the article said……. “Women and girls end up in prison for being unwilling, or simply tragically unable, to carry the pregnancy to term,” she says………
    Unwilling is a very scary word to be using….and it says it all….unwilling to submit to this atrocious way of treating innocent women and girls – who are given NO control over their reproductive cycles and yet expected to be able to control rape, pregnancy, miscarriage or birth…they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t….But women who are unable to carry a pregnancy need medical help and compassion….not a bloody prison sentence…that’s barbaric……An impossible situation of course maintained by catholic doctrine…its bloody archaic and a murderous regime imposing ‘prison sentences’ on women on so many levels…

  2. I can’t help but contrast this article with another current one (http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/10/18/avaaz-trapped-in-a-russian-jail).

    Assuming what I’m reading is accurate then on the one hand, some people might be facing 15 years in prison for deliberately boarding another sea vessel by force, on the other, some people are actually IN prison with a 40 year sentence for accidentally suffering a miscarriage.

    And who’s getting the high profile international petition…?

    Appalling priorities.

  3. And the root cause of this abomination of a “Law”…. buried deep in the article… typical of the BBC?

    “But the government has made no attempt to repeal or relax the law since coming to power in 2009, as it remains popular with large parts of the conservative population, who revere the Church and pro-life religious groups”

    ‘… but for good people to do bad things, that takes RELIGION’

    • In reply to #6 by Roedy:

      This violates an important legal principle. You need proof beyond reasonable doubt before convicting.

      The problem is that that is not a universal principle. It comes from the Common Law of England, which informed the legal systems of the US, the other English-speaking countries and the Commonwealth. It is by no means a common principle in countries whose legal systems are based on the Civil Law of Rome, or on anything else. In many jurisdictions, the accused is not even considered innocent until proved guilty, but rather is held in abeyance until the court decides their fate.

      I imagine El Salvador, being a ‘Latin” state is a Civil Law country – it’s certainly not a Common Law country.

    • In reply to #9 by mmurray: Maybe Pope Francis should be consulted on this qustion. Would be interesting to see his take.

      I don’t believe this story. We have a new friendly Pope. The Catholic Church has completely changed.



  4. After reading this article, I have had to spend the last fifteen minutes just calming myself down. This is male-chauvinistic sexism at its ugliest; and the Catholic Church has always been a staunch supporter of this. The brutal injustices caused or supported by this church’s fanciful beliefs in spirits human and divine are truly sickening. Écrasez l’infâme!

    • In reply to #11 by Matt G:

      Let’s see, with about 50% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage, that ends being a whole lot of investigations….

      No I think most of that 50% occur so early there will be no presentation to hospital so no investigation.


  5. If all the women just up & left El Salvador for a country with more humane & realistic views they might teach their men a valuable lesson. This sounds to me like they could claim political asylum.

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