A judge in El Salvador sentenced a woman to 50 years in prison after she suffered an obstetric emergency and lost her fetus in the ninth month of pregnancy, according to reproductive rights activists. She was found guilty of homicide. The sentencing last week of Lesli Lisbeth Ramírez Ramírez, who was 19 when her pregnancy ended, appears to be the harshest ever handed down in El Salvador to a woman suspected of trying to abort her pregnancy.
Ramírez suffered an obstetric emergency at home in June 2020, activists said. She said she felt the desire to defecate, and when she sat down on the toilet, lost the fetus. She said that she didn’t realize she was pregnant. After family members called 911 to seek help, the police arrived and took her to the hospital. She was detained shortly after on suspicion of murder, and released after two years in preventive detention.
In November, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights also ruled that El Salvador violated the rights of a woman who died in prison in 2010 while serving a 30-year sentence for aggravated homicide after suffering a stillbirth. The court said El Salvador must pay reparations to the woman’s family and develop policies that protect women who suffer obstetric emergencies.
But the lengthy sentences for Ramírez and Esme underscore just how conservative a country El Salvador remains when it comes to reproductive rights. It is one of five Latin American countries with a total ban on abortion, including in cases of rape or when the woman’s life is at risk.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction