Justice for Women Imprisoned for Miscarriages

Target: Benito Lara, Minister of Justice and Public Security

Goal: Free women imprisoned for suffering from pregnancy complications.

Women who suffer a miscarriage in El Salvador are thrown in jail. As crazy as that sounds, many El Salvadoran women who experienced pregnancy complications are currently serving 30-plus year jail sentences. These women were arrested and charged with abortion or murder, regardless of whether they actually had an abortion. If a woman births a stillborn child, she is also at risk of incarceration. It is time to demand an end to this ridiculous violation of women’s rights.

Amnesty International tells the story of Maria Teresa Rivera, a woman who is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for suffering a miscarriage. Rivera had become pregnant at 28 and was unaware she was with child. During her shift at a garment factory, Rivera felt the need to go to the bathroom but was actually suffering from the beginning stages of a miscarriage. After being taken the hospital, staff reported the young woman to police, who arrived and questioned her without an attorney present. Rivera was charged with and found guilty of aggravated homicide and she has been in prison ever since.

Imagine the horror these women suffer. You’ve lost your baby or birthed a stillborn and now you are accused of an impossible crime. Pregnancy complications are rarely the fault of the mother, and yet, these women are being prosecuted and thrown in jail for losing their babies. The trauma of losing the infant alone is devastating enough; it’s unthinkable to accuse them of murder and incarcerate them too.

Stand up for women’s rights and demand El Salvador’s Minister of Justice and Public Security release these imprisoned women immediately. It is a grave violation of women’s rights and international law to incarcerate women for pregnancy complications.


Dear Minister Lara,

I am appalled at your country’s blatant violation of women’s rights. Women who have suffered a miscarriage or other pregnancy complications are not murderers; they are mothers who are mourning the loss of their child. Your country’s assumption that a woman who loses her baby has somehow killed it is archaic, ridiculous, and demonstrates how ignorant you remain as human beings. It begs to ask the question: What is wrong with you?

There are women in El Salvador who have suffered what civilized nations call a “natural abortion.” What does this mean? It means the women lost the baby at no fault of her own. Something biological happened and the baby died. She did not kill the baby. The baby died of natural causes.

Your nation simply remains uncivilized and arrests and questions these helpless women without an attorney present and while they are still in the hospital. These women are then charged with homicide and thrown in jail. This is abusive and ridiculous behavior.

Release these women. They are not murderers. They are mothers who have lost their child at no fault of their own. Your refusal to release these women from prison and your continued detainment of these women in the first place, places your country in potential violation of women’s rights and international law. Stop throwing women in jail for pregnancy complications.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: DC Protests

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