When Sonia Tabora got pregnant at age 20, she never dreamed her next 7 years would be spent in prison. After a premature birth, Sonia’s baby died suddenly. Sonia was alone in her shock and grief, severely bleeding, until the doctor arrived. However, once she explained what had happened, her story was deemed an abortion cover-up and she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. A victim of the harsh culture surrounding women’s reproductive rights in El Salvador, Sonia was fortunate enough to get her case overturned after years of fighting for her freedom date.
Sonia is just one woman among many who have suffered unjustly due to the oppressive governing laws ruling women’s bodies and reproductive choices, especially regarding abortion laws. Since 1997, El Salvador has executed a policy that states, “Penalización absoluta,” meaning that it is unexceptionally illegal to perform or receive an abortion, including pregnancies that result from rape or incest, or when the pregnancy is life-threatening. Under the current law women who are convicted under this Penal Code face anywhere from two to eight years of imprisonment. This is indicative of the culture surrounding women’s reproduction and rights, as laws like these are used as tools to oppress women and to maintain the government’s power over the lives of its people.
Alliance for Sexual Health and Reproduction in El Salvador (Alianza) and the Central Women’s Fund (FCAM) held a forum on Sept. 28th entitled, “Implications of the absolute incrimination of abortion in women’s lives”. SHARE partner ORMUSA participated in the forum in which many social justice groups discussed how this law, among others, seizes sovereignty over women’s bodies; in turn, it encroaches on their freedom, aggravating gender inequality and intensifying the consequences of unplanned pregnancy.