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Salvadoran woman charged with abortion says she is innocent

EL SALVADOR ABORTION | 15 de julio de 2019

Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador, Jul 15 (efe-epa).- Twenty-one-year-old Salvadoran Evelyn Hernandez said Monday that she is innocent of aggravated murder for allegedly aborting her unborn fetus, a charge she is facing in a new trial after the Constitutional Court overturned a 2018 guilty conviction against her.

"Thank God I'm OK. I'm innocent ... I trust greatly in God and in my attorneys," the young women told reporters.

Hernandez, who is going on trial again on the murder charge, arrived at the Justice Center in the city of Ciudad Delgado at 7:55 am, accompanied by her parents and attorneys.

Also showing up at the courthouse were activists fighting for the decriminalization of abortion in El Salvador and human rights defenders.

The court case, from which reporters were barred, has not yet been scheduled, attorney Elizabeth Deras told EFE.

It had been anticipated that the Cojuteque Trial Court would hear the case starting at 8:30 am although the reason that it had not yet gotten underway by that time was not known.

The new trial will determine whether Hernandez will be sent to prison or exonerated.

The date of the new trial has been changed four times for assorted reasons, which - according to various organizations fighting to get abortion decriminalized in El Salvador - is a "serious" violation of Hernandez's human rights.

Hernandez, a young woman of meager resources who lives in a rural section of the Central American country, was sentenced in July 2017 to 30 years behind bars for murder with aggravating circumstances.

In December 2018, the Salvadoran Supreme Court nullified the ruling by the Cojuteque court, whereupon a new trial was ordered for Hernandez, who - her attorneys say - suffered an "out-of-hospital" delivery on April 6, 2016.

In El Salvador, women who have complications during pregnancy that result in spontaneous abortions and stillbirths are regularly suspected of having abortions, which are prohibited under all circumstances and are designated "aggravated murder," the penalty for which is 30 years in prison.

Since 2009, the Citizens Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion has helped 28 women accused of abortion to regain their freedom, one of the most noteworthy cases being that of Teodora del Carmen Vasquez, who had been sentenced to 30 years behind bars for allegedly ending her pregnancy.

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