El Salvador's suicide rate linked to repressive abortion laws
26th September 2014,
Women face up to 50 years’ jail for illegal abortion or even miscarriage in El Salvador, says new research.
* Sunday 28 September, International Day of Action for the Decriminalisation of Abortion, will see international protests that demand safe access to abortion for all women.
New research shows a high suicide rate in El Salvador, among the world’s most repressive states when it comes to abortion.
Women face up to 50 years’ jail after illegal abortion, or even miscarriage, says a study published by the Central America Women’s Network and the journal Reproductive Health Matters.
In 2011 suicides among pregnant women represented the third largest cause of maternal deaths, after hypertensive disorders and obstetric haemorrhage, according to the health ministry’s maternal death surveillance system.
The paper, 'From Hospital to Jail', suggests the lack of alternatives to abortion, in the case of unwanted pregnancies, may be leading many women to kill themselves.
The ministry cites the biggest cause of death among girls aged 10-19 as suicide.
In half of these cases, the girl was pregnant.
It is not unreasonable, CAWN and RHM say, to link suicide with high rates of rape and sexual abuse that adolescent girls suffer,
In 2011 the ministry provided care to 26,662 children and adolescent girls who became pregnant after sexual abuse.
The network’s partner in El Salvador, the Asociación Ciudadana (Group for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic Abortion), has launched the “We are all the 17” drive.
This campaign is building global backing to demand pardons for 17 women, all from deprived backgrounds, who have been imprisoned for the “crime” of pregnancy complications.
Most of the women experienced obstetric problems during their pregnancies and gave birth without any medical assistance.
The women were bleeding when they managed to reach a hospital.
But when they asked for help, rather than gain support, the women were reported and prosecuted for aggravated murder.
Between 2000 and 2011, 129 women were prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide, related to pregnancy.
Yet this represents only a small percentage of all the women who undergo an unsafe abortion in El Salvador, estimated to be more than 35,000 each year.
The majority are poor and young, with over 84 per cent of women accused under the draconian anti-abortion law under 30 years old.
Only a fourth of the prosecuted women attended high school or university, and nearly eight in ten have no income, or less than the minimum wage.
The campaign appeals for solidarity from people who share the women’s bid to regain their freedom, return to their families and rebuild their lives.blog comments powered by Disqus