A Salvadoran woman has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after her baby died during a medical emergency.
Lesli Lisbeth Ramírez Ramírez, who was 19 years old at the time, had suffered an obstetric emergency and lost the baby while going to the bathroom at night on June 2020.
“She went to the latrine and at that moment she had a precipitous labor, expelling the child in gestation,” abortion rights group, Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, said.
The head of the group, Morena Herrera, told Reuters that Ramírez came from a poor community and her home lacked electricity, so after suffering the emergency she had tried cutting the umbilical cord in the dark.
At the time, Ramírez had been unaware of her pregnancy and lacked sexual education to understand what was happening.
Panicking, she called her neighbors, who called the police to transport her to a hospital, but accusations of murder followed soon after.
Authorities accused her of stabbing her baby on the throat and killing it.
Abortion is illegal in El Salvador under all circumstances, including in medical emergencies that could threaten the woman’s life.
She was given a 50-year sentence on June 20 for aggravated homicide.
This is the first time such a tough sentence has been applied to a woman suffering an obstetric emergency in the country.
The court refused to allow evidence that would have demonstrated Ramírez’s innocence and refused to acknowledge the social context she lived and the sexual violence she endured, the group said.
“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,” Herrera said.
This is a setback after abortion rights groups managed to slowly overturn the rulings of wrongfully convicted women over the past few years.
In February, a woman was freed after she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the same charge.
This came after three women were freed in December last year.
But in May this year, another Salvadoran woman was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she suffered a miscarriage, the first time in seven years that a court has jailed a woman for having an obstetric emergency.
More than 140 women have been charged under the country’s abortion ban in the past two decades, according to CBS News.