Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Pro choice protest in El Salvador

Pro-choice women hold up letters that spell "aborto legal" during a demonstration on March 6, 2020 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo: Camilo Freedman/Getty Images)

Under 'Draconian Abortion Ban,' Woman in El Salvador Sentenced to 50 Years for Pregnancy Loss

Laws like El Salvador's are "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," noted one observer.

Julia Conley

Reproductive freedom advocates are condemning a 50-year prison sentence given to a woman in El Salvador this week, after she was convicted of homicide following what rights groups say was a stillbirth.

The case of Lesli Lisbeth Ramírez Ramírez, who was 19 when she suffered the pregnancy loss in June 2020, is the result of the type of "draconian abortion ban" which is "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," said journalist Max Granger.

According to Vice, Ramírez "suffered an obstetric emergency and lost her fetus in the ninth month of pregnancy." She said she hadn't known she was pregnant and didn't know what was happening when she gave birth. She was taken to a hospital and was detained shortly thereafter on suspicion of murder.

The judge who sentenced Ramírez, Ricardo Torres Arieta, also sentenced a woman identified as Esme in May to 30 years in prison, a year and a half after she sought help for a medical emergency during her pregnancy and lost her unborn child.

While sentencing her, Arieta told Ramírez that "mothers are the source of protection for their children in any circumstance of life, and you were not," according to the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, an advocacy group based in San Salvador.

Since 1998, El Salvador has been one of a small minority of countries where abortion is completely illegal with no exceptions. People who have abortions face up to eight years in prison and providers face up to 12 years. A number of women have been charged with murder after suffering stillbirths and miscarriages.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled last year that the government violated the rights of a woman who died in prison in 2010 while serving a sentence for experiencing a stillbirth.

The citizen group on Wednesday condemned the judge for ignoring evidence "of the gender-based violence to which Lesli had been subjected."

Ramírez's lawyer, Abigail Cortez, noted that her client was one of many women in El Salvador who suffered pregnancy losses amid the coronavirus pandemic, when access to gynecological care was limited.

Cortez she plans to appeal the sentence.

"My heart aches because we have tried to close the page on the sad history of El Salvador that unjustly condemns impoverished women due to obstetric emergencies, but the Salvadoran state, once again, continues to be cruel to women," said Morena Herrera, president of the citizen group. "Despite these penalizing intentions, we are going to change this reality, because we are capable of imagining a fairer world."

The cases of both Ramírez and Esme offer "a stark warning to women in the United States," said educational charity the Female Lead.

Ramírez's sentence was handed down less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, immediately eliminating abortion rights for millions of people in at least eight states, with several other states to follow.

The Republican Party intends to introduce a nationwide six-week abortion ban if they win control of Congress in November.

"There is an emboldening of conservative positions after the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States," Herrera told El País in Spain.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Because Climate Science 'Does Not Grade on a Curve,' Experts Says IRA Not Enough

"There is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching measures to prevent climate chaos," said the head of one progressive consumer advocacy group.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Game-Changer and Reason for Hope': House Passes Inflation Reduction Act

"We've got more to do," Rep. Pramila Jayapal said on the House floor. "But today, let's celebrate this massive investment for the people."

Jake Johnson ·

'This Is Insane': Search Warrant Indicates FBI Investigating Trump for Espionage Act Violation

"If you're not fed up," said watchdog group Public Citizen, "you're not paying enough attention."

Jessica Corbett ·

Anti-War Veterans Group Asks Biden to 'Read Our Nuclear Posture Review Before Releasing Yours'

"Are you willing to risk a civilization-ending apocalypse by playing nuclear chicken with other nuclear-armed nations? Or will you lead us toward a planet that is free of nuclear weapons?"

Jessica Corbett ·

'Big Win' for Public Lands and Climate as US Judge Reinstates Coal Lease Ban

"It's past time that this misguided action by the Trump administration is overturned," said one environmental campaigner.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo