Urge El Salvador to Decriminalize Abortion

Target: Government of El Salvador; specifically: President of El Salvador, Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena; Min. of Health, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez; and permanent Representative to the UN, Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli

Goal: Convince the government of El Salvador to decriminalize abortions for women who are mentally ill, pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or in order to save a woman’s life.

El Salvador has one of the most rigid, blanket abortions bans in the world, criminalizing both physicians performing abortions and the women seeking abortions. The law makes no exceptions for women who are mentally ill, pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or in cases when an abortion could save the woman’s life. The penalty for having an abortion, or consenting to perform one, is incarceration for up to eight years.

In 1998, El Salvador changed their penal code, which once allowed for legal abortions under restricted circumstances, and made abortion under any circumstance illegal. A study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2008 found that restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion, citing an abortion rate of 32 per 1,000 women in Latin America in contrast to an abortion rate of 12 per 1,000 women in Western Europe, a region where abortion is more generally permitted.

The research from WHO also shows that in 2008, complications due to unsafe methods of abortion accounted for 13% of all maternal deaths. A 12 year investigation into the causal effects of El Salvador’s abortion ban by the Center for Reproductive Rights found that when left with no safe, legal option for abortion, women resorted to attempting to self-induce abortions by methods such as using clothes hangers, iron bars, fertilizers, soapy water, and battery acid. And when these women were hospitalized with health complications resulting from self-induced abortions, they were turned over to El Salvador police and the judicial system by hospital workers who violated the women’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality.

By having a blanket abortion ban, El Salvador is not preventing abortions. The ban is simply forcing women to seek unsafe and life-threatening methods of carrying out what could be a safe surgical procedure if made legal for these specific circumstances.

By signing the petition below you will help urge the government of El Salvador to decriminalize abortion for women who are mentally ill, pregnant as a result of rape or incest, and in cases where an abortion may save the woman’s life.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President of El Salvador, Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena; Min. of Health, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez; and permanent Representative to the UN, Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli:

The rigid, blanket abortion ban currently in place in El Salvador that makes criminal any abortion performed under any circumstance, is ineffective in preventing abortions. The ban only forces women to seek illegal and unsafe methods of self-induced abortion that often result in death or serious health complications.

I am urging you to decriminalize abortions in cases where women are mentally ill, pregnant as a result of rape or incest, or when an abortion could save a woman’s life. Please take action to repeal the 1999 amendment to the Constitution, establishing protection of life from the moment of conception, and return to the Penal Code in effect prior to 1998.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Andrew Bossi via Flickr

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Signatures

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