San Salvador, Sept 28 (EFE).- The absolute criminalization of abortion in El Salvador, one of the most restrictive countries, constitutes violence against women, said activists from the Feminist Assembly on Thursday.
The declarations come amid the World Day of Action for Legal Abortion celebrated every year on September 28.
In El Salvador, women are usually suspected of having had an abortion – prohibited under all circumstances – and charged with homicide, which carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years, if they suffer pregnancy complications that lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.
Activist Liseth Alas points out that “El Salvador remains one of the most backward countries” on abortion rights, despite this there are others in the region that “have made progress on the issue of safe and free access to abortion, such as Mexico.”
She pointed out during a press conference that in March 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on abortion, requiring all states to remove barriers.
However, despite these new guidelines, “El Salvador continues to criminalize abortion in all its forms,” she said.
No progress in terms of legislation
For activist Keyla Cáceres “This country has not made any legislative progress, although other types of laws have been passed that even permit acts of corruption, but women and girls continue to wait on the Legislative Assembly to pass laws that benefit girls and women,” she said.
“We are not even talking about a law that would decriminalize abortion in its entirety, but rather a law that would allow the lives and health of girls and women to be protected in this country,” she added.
Cáceres maintained that this September 28 “is a day of struggle so that this Legislative Assembly doesn’t continue silencing these causes, believing that through religious and moral fundamentalisms they can silence the reality of girls and adolescents in this country.”
“This day is celebrated so that we, as a society, do not allow this cause to be an isolated one,” the activist said.
“We need the majority of women in this country to have as a cause, not a few, but all women united to not let them continue to legislate over our bodies,” she added.
Keyla asserted that “the absolute criminalization of abortion is the greatest expression of violence against women, next to feminicide.”
“We are not a fully developed country because the laws criminalize women and girls and condemn them to cycles of poverty and violence,” she said.
“As a result, women will continue to be the poorest population, we are at the bottom of the inequality chain,” she added.
“Girls are not Mothers”
Cáceres explained that on September 7, a new initiative was presented to the Legislative Assembly called “Girls are not Mothers.”
The bill seeks to open the possibility of terminating pregnancies when girls and adolescents under the age of 18 are victims of sexual violence.
The proposal, seen by EFE and presented by deputy John Wright of the Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time) party, calls for an article to be added to the Penal Code stating that “abortion will not be punished in cases where the pregnancy is the result of sexual violence and aggravated sexual violence against girls and adolescents”.
In addition, “the State will ensure that girls and adolescents who request an abortion receive legal, psychological and social support in the care they receive.”
Between 2015 and 2022, 133,853 underage pregnancies were recorded in El Salvador, of which 6,130 were girls under the age of 14, according to data from the United Nations Population Fund.EFE