Select this search icon to access the search form

Main menu

Facebook Share

El Salvador: #EndTotalAbortionBan now!

    Saturday, March 4, 2017 - 11:28

    With your help, we have a real chance of overturning El Salvador’s total ban on abortion!

    In 1998, El Salvador instituted a complete ban on abortion, with lengthy prison sentences for women accused of having abortions. It has led to women who experience pregnancy-related complications like miscarriage because accused of having an abortion, charged with “aggravated homicide,” and sentenced to prison terms of up to 40 years.

    Alongside organizations like Agrupación Ciudadana, Amnesty has long called for El Salvador’s total ban on abortion to be overturned because it unjustly criminalizes women and denies them access to safe and legal abortion services in case of rape, incest, or life-threatening medical conditions. The result? Many women, like Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, are in prison for having a miscarriage, and El Salvador has a high rate of maternal deaths because of complications from illegal abortions.

    Last year, El Salvador rejected a proposal to reform the existing abortion law to increase jail terms for women accused for having had an abortion to up to 50 years. Political support to reject the total abortion ban is growing. The Minister of Health, doctors, and other international experts support abortion law reform. A new proposal would reform the abortion law to allow for legalization of abortion when the woman’s life is at risk, when the pregnancy is the result of rape, and when the fetus is unlikely to survive.

    For this proposal to go forward to the General Assembly (parliament), it must first be approved by the nine-person Commission of the Legislative Assembly. Three members of the Commission support the proposal, three oppose it, and three are undecided.

    Your action is needed now to let the three undecided members of the Commission know the importance of supporting the proposal to legalize abortion in some circumstances.

    We are calling on Commission members to:

    • Support the abortion law reform that ends the total ban on abortion.
    • Eliminate all punitive measures for women and girls seeking an abortion, as well as for the health care providers and others who help them to have one.
    • Have a serious and participative debate about the consequences of the total ban on abortion on women’s life and health.

    Please email a letter to Commission members without delay. As of mid-May, the Commission had not commenced its discussions on this issue.

    Sample letter

    Subject: End Total Abortion Ban in El Salvador



    Dear Honourable (name),

    For the first time since the current abortion law came into effect in El Salvador, there is an opportunity for you to be part of the change that will save the lives of women in your country. Thousands of women and girls have lost their lives or been imprisoned because of the total abortion ban.

    You have the power to change history. Since 1998, abortion has been totally banned in El Salvador. It doesn’t matter whether you get pregnant after being raped or whether your life is at risk – abortion is always a crime. The existing penalties on health workers also prevent women from accessing medical care, instill fear in doctors, and prevent them from upholding the hippocratic oath.

    The consequences are dire. Women and girls are forced to have illegal and unsafe abortions which can lead to serious health complications or even death. Women with obstetric emergencies and women who have abortions end up in prison. Today, some of them face up to 40 years of prison and are accused of aggravated homicide. This has destroyed their lives, and the lives of their families. It is time for you as a legislator to end this.

    Women and girls who are victims of sexual violations should not have to carry the consequences of these crimes throughout their lives. It is time to promote a serious debate in the General Assembly and change history. Women and girls in El Salvador should have the right to access safe and legal abortion services, at the very least when the pregnancy is a risk to their lives or health, when the fetus is not expected to survive, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape.

    As a members of the Commission of the Legislative Assembly, your vote in support of the proposal to reform El Salvador’s abortion laws is a vote to end unjust criminalization of women, a vote to protect women’s health, and a vote to promote the rights of women and girls.

    Learn more