GDC Urges Abortion Decriminalization in El Salvador

Global Doctors for Choice (GDC) joined the recent movement among reproductive health and human rights agencies and petitioned the El Salvadorian government to decriminalize abortion for four instances: when the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman, threatens the woman’s mental or physical health, has a malformation incompatible with life, and/or is the product of sexual violence, rape, or incest.

From 2005 to 2008, the El Salvadorian Ministry of Health counted 19,290 clandestine abortions; yet others estimate that this figure is the annual average. According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 data, 11% of the women and girls in El Salvador who obtained a clandestine abortion died.  Additionally, suicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant adolescents.

Currently, the El Salvadoran law does not allow abortion under any circumstances, not even when a doctor considers it necessary to save the woman’s life. A doctor can be convicted from two to eight years of imprisonment, simply for trying to save the life of a pregnant woman. The only way to protect medical practice, public health, and the lives of women and girls in El Salvador is to legalize abortion.

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