Feminists Demand Decriminalization, Warn of Setbacks on "International Safe Abortion Day"

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Feminists gather in 2019 outside a criminal court in San Salvador, demanding release of a Evelyn, a woman incarcerated under El Salvador's abortion laws and later freed due to feminist advocacy and grassroots struggle. Photo credit: CISPES.

September 28 is recognized around the world as “International Safe Abortion Day.” The day is rooted in longstanding feminist struggles to decriminalize abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean where feminist organizations have been mobilizing on this date for the last two decades, calling on their governments for decriminalization, access to safe and affordable abortion services, and an end to stigma and discrimination.

El Salvador has one of the harshest abortion laws in the world (helped along by financing and support from US-based anti-abortion groups). Abortion is illegal in all circumstances without exception, regardless of threats to the health of the person pregnant or the viability of the fetus, and carries a sentence of up to 50 years. As in other parts of the world, criminalization of abortion is a tactic of class war that mainly affects those from poor and/or rural areas.

Since 2009, the feminist organization Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto El Salvador (Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador) has been active struggling against the country’s draconian laws. In that time, they’ve worked at both the legislative and grassroots level–proposing legislation that would decriminalize abortion in specific cases as well as educating and mobilizing the Salvadoran population. 

Today on #28Septiembre, they issued the following public statement honoring the life and legacy of Beatriz, a woman whose emblematic struggle for decriminalization “moved the world,” and positioning that struggle in the current context of extreme repression and conservative ascendancy under the Bukele administration. Excerpts (translation, CISPES):

“Currently, we are facing grave setbacks in our rights–a situation that is exacerbated by the State of Emergency, which has specific and different effects on the lives of women:  in sexual and reproductive health and the right to decide about our bodies and lives, in care work, in the constant search for victims of enforced disappearance by the arbitrary detentions of the State, and in the violation and fragility of our physical and emotional health.

We fight from different sectors for the lives and health of women, that is why our demand for the decriminalization of abortion has been a historical demand from a long process of struggle, which has shown how the Salvadoran State undermines the human dignity of women, through religious fundamentalism that deepens the inequality between women and men in terms of fundamental human rights.

With the absolute criminalization of abortion, women’s right to health and life has been systematically violated and denied and subjects women to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. We honor the memory of Beatriz and recognize her legacy of struggle for life; she opened a path toward the right to decide in El Salvador. That is why today September 28th we join our voices in the global action for the decriminalization of abortion and demand that the Salvadoran State:

  • Comply with the sentence of the Interamerican Human Rights Court in the case of Manuela vs El Salvador.
  • End the criminalization of women facing obstetric emergencies and immediately release imprisoned women.

May Beatriz's memory remain present for her contribution to the struggle for the right to decide in El Salvador." 

 

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