There are five countries in the world where abortion is illegal under all circumstances: the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Malta, Nicaragua & the Vatican. This means women are unable to end a pregnancy when having a baby might kill them or when they were raped. If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with cancer she can’t get chemotherapy because it might endanger the foetus.
In El Salvador, a country with barely 6 million inhabitants, every year more than 1,000 girls aged between 10 and 14 years become pregnant after being raped. Up until 1998, they could have had an abortion on these grounds – and also if the pregnancy put their lives in danger or the foetus had a serious defect. Unfortunately, the archbishop at the time wasn’t cool with women being in charge of their bodies and forced the students of Catholic schools – there are plenty – to protest. The campaign was successful and, nowadays, 89 per cent of Salvadorans believe abortion should be illegal under all circumstances.
In a climate like this, even miscarriages can put a woman into prison without incriminating evidence. If she is blackguarded by someone like a nurse or a neighbour, a woman can be sentenced to 8 years for abortion and 40 years for murder. The verdict is easy for the judge: a miscarriage before the 22nd week counts as an abortion, a miscarriage after the 22nd week as a murder. Very few of these women get pardoned but most stay in prison for years – and child murderers are on the lowest level in prison hierarchy.