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El Salvador woman pardoned after manslaughter conviction for abortion

EL SALVADOR ABORTION (ADDS VIDEO) | 19 de agosto de 2019

Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- A court in El Salvador pardoned Evelyn Hernandez, 21, this Monday of the crime of aggravated manslaughter for having an abortion in 2016, for which the prosecution had asked that she be sentenced to 40 years in prison, a spokesperson of an organization that provided legal aid to the woman told EFE.

The young woman, whose pregnancy was the result of rape, underwent another trial after the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) annulled in December 2018 the sentence of July 2017, when she was given 30 years imprisonment for the crime of aggravated manslaughter for failing to protect the life of her baby

Judge Jose Virgilio Jurado Martinez of the Cojutepeque Court presided over the new trial against Hernandez last Thursday and Friday.

Attorney Bertha de Leon told the press that the judge "said there was no way to prove the crime and for that reason pardoned her; and he said it was a complicated birth like that of many women who remain in prison for the crime of manslaughter."

For her part, Hernandez, who appeared extremely moved, said her goals now are to continue her studies and "keep moving on."

"Thank God justice was done. All this time was very hard because they accused me of something I didn't do...I hope a lot of girls (convicted of abortion) are released soon," the young woman said.

The Attorney General's Office of the Republic (FGR), whose representatives declined to speak to reporters, accused Hernandez of aggravated manslaughter in the category of commission by omission, for which it had initially sought a 40-year sentence.

The Salvadoran spent 33 months in prison, and in February of this year was allowed out on probation.

Hernandez gave birth at home on April 6, 2016, and was later taken by a family member to National Hospital in Cojutepeque municipality, where she was reported to the authorities by the doctor attending to her, according to her attorneys.

News of Evelyn's case spread beyond Salvadoran borders and various international human-rights organizations in favor of decriminalizing abortion asked the AG's Office on numerous occasions to drop the charge against Hernandez.

Women in El Salvador who suffer complications during pregnancy that lead to spontaneous abortions and stillbirths are generally suspected of having purposely had an abortion, banned under all circumstances and classified as aggravated manslaughter, for which the sentence is 30 years behind bars. EFE-EPA sa/cd

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