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.