“With these four emblematic cases, we hope the United Nations Group determines that El Salvador persecutes and arbitrarily detains women who suffer obstetric emergencies and/or births outside the hospital, particularly poor, rural women,” said Ms. Herrera of the Citizen Group.
In El Salvador, the political environment remains difficult.
An attempt last year to permit abortion in cases of rape and to protect the health of the mother failed in El Salvador’s congress. The chances of easing the 1998 anti-abortion law then became more remote as conservatives became dominant in the legislature.
President Nayib Bukele, who took office in June, has said that poor women should not be targeted unfairly in these cases. But he has remained silent in the case of Ms. Hernández, the first woman to be prosecuted under his presidency.
Advocates, though, have found slow progress in the courts.
In March, the Supreme Court commuted the sentences of three women, who had each spent almost a decade in prison for aggravated homicide, and ordered their release. The court ruled that the women’s rights were violated because prosecutors and lower courts had failed to take into account the social and gender barriers they faced.
In December, a court declared another woman, Imelda Cortez, not guilty of attempted homicide after she was accused of abandoning her baby girl.
Ms. Cortez, who had been raped for years by her stepfather, said she had not known she was pregnant when she lost consciousness during the birth. She spent 17 months in pretrial detention.
In the ruling, the judge noted that Ms. Cortez needed a blood transfusion when she arrived at the hospital. As such, he found that there was no way that Ms. Cortez could have intended to abandon her baby, who was born healthy.
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