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January 22, 2015

El Salvador pardons woman serving 30 years for abortion

Activists say more must be done as case spotlights country's total abortion ban.

Activists in El Salvador demand the pardon of 17 women imprisoned for abortion. (EPA/ROBERTO ESCOBAR)

Abortion rights activists are celebrating the decision by El Salvador's Congress to pardon a woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder after complications with her pregnancy.

Originally accused of abortion, Carmen "Guadalupe" Vasquez was charged and convicted of aggravated murder in 2007. According to activists, Guadalupe suffered complications at home and miscarried. She was later taken to the hospital, where doctors called the police and accused her of intentionally trying to end her pregnancy. 

Her pardon comes as a relief to activists who say the country's abortion laws violate human rights. El Salvador criminalised abortion in 1998. At least 129 women were prosecuted under the country's abortion law between 2000 and 2011. Twenty-six of these women were convicted of murder and imprisoned.

Many online celebrated Wednesday's decision: