El Salvador frees 3 women serving long prison terms for abortion
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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – The government of President Nayib Bukele has released three Salvadoran women who were sentenced to 30 years in prison under the country’s strict anti-abortion laws after suffering obstetric emergencies, rights groups say to abortion.
Morena Herrera of the Citizens Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion said Friday evening that the group had been told that a woman would be released on presidential orders, but when they went to the prison to greet her, three were released.
“We showed up at Zacatecoluca Prison, and Karen, Kathy and Evelyn left. They are free and in their homes, ”Ms. Herrera said, referring to the three released women, whose last names were not given.
Ms Herrera said she had no further information on the decision, although she noted that there were petitions pending before the Supreme Court to commute the sentences of women.
The three are among at least 17 Salvadoran activists considered unfairly convicted and imprisoned following obstetric emergencies and who have been at the center of a campaign against El Salvador’s absolute law against abortions.
Several celebrities – including actors America Ferrera, Milla Jovovich and Kathryn Hahn – last week asked the Bukele administration to let the women go home for Christmas.
“We are grateful that our petitions are heard and we hope that President Bukele will work to secure freedom for the rest of innocent women,” said Paula Avila-Guillén, executive director of the Washington-based Women’s Equality Center.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in November that the Salvadoran government had violated the rights of a woman identified as Manuela who was arrested in 2008 for inducing an abortion and died in 2010 while in detention , leaving two children.
El Salvador is one of four Latin American countries that ban abortion in all cases, including when the mother’s life is in danger and in cases of rape. The others are Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Homicide charges are often laid in abortion cases.
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