El Salvador Upholds Mother’s 30-Year Prison Sentence Over Stillbirth

by
“Teodora’s tragic story is a sad illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador, where human rights seem to be a foreign concept.”

 

 

Nearly 10 years ago, a woman named Teodora del Carmen Vasquez said she was working in a school cafeteria when she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. Given the fact she was nine months pregnant at the time, the young mother called the emergency hotline, but the help did not arrive. Instead, the pain and bleeding got so bad the she allegedly passed out.

By the time she gained consciousness, she said she had given birth, but the baby was dead.

When the officials finally arrived at the scene, they arrested Vasquez for aggravated murder of her baby. The government autopsy claimed the child had died of “perinatal asphyxia” after birth and the court sentenced the woman to 30 years in prison – where she has been rotting for the past 10 years, while her mother is raising her 13-year-old son.

Recently, Amnesty International filed an appeal for the 34-year-old’s prison sentence to be overturned. Vasquez’s attorney even presented the judges who convicted her with medical studies that reportedly proved the baby was in fact stillborn, but to no avail.

Unfortunately, the court denied her appeal – and according to Vasquez’s attorney Victor Hugo Mata, her case cannot be appealed again.

“Teodora’s tragic story is a sad illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador, where human rights seem to be a foreign concept,” Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said in a statement. “Instead of punishing Teodora for being a woman, authorities in El Salvador must urgently take a hard look at their outrageous anti-abortion law and take immediate steps to repeal it.”

El Salvador has the most stringent anti-abortion rules on the entire planet, where women are not allowed to terminate their pregnancies even if they were a victim of sexual assault, incest or if the fetus was endangering their lives. The punishment for abortion is up to eight years.

Women who go through miscarriages or give birth to stillborn babies are punished even more harshly, with court sentencing them up to 50 years in prison.

According to Reuters, there are currently 27 women imprisoned in El Salvador for abortion-related crimes.

The court’s inhumane decision has drawn the ire of human rights activists across the world.

"We denounce the Salvadoran state because once more there’s evidence that women’s lives don’t matter,” said Sara Garcia of the Citizens Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.

Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters/Jose Cabezas

Carbonated.TV
View Comments

Recommended For You