Woman, 19, Gets 30 Years in Prison After Stillbirth

Prosecutors in El Salvador argued she blew off prenatal care
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2017 9:15 AM CDT
Woman, 19, Gets 30 Years in Prison After Stillbirth
Cruz's case is a travesty, says Amnesty International.   (Getty Images/Luke_Franzen)

In what the Guardian is calling "the latest in a long line of failures of justice against pregnant women" in El Salvador, a 19-year-old was on Wednesday sentenced to 30 years in prison after a stillbirth. Per Al Jazeera, Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz was convicted of "aggravated homicide," accused by prosecutors of not seeking proper prenatal care. Hernandez says she hadn't known she was pregnant until, at the age of 18, she went into labor in a bathroom in April 2016 after severe stomach and back pain; her pregnancy reportedly came about after she'd been raped repeatedly by a gang member. Per the BBC, Hernandez's lawyers say she'd been too scared to ever report the rapes to police.

She gave birth into a toilet, and prosecutors scoffed at her claims of ignorance, saying she knew about the pregnancy, didn't want the baby, and tried to kill him by tossing him into the toilet after he was born. Medical experts couldn't say for sure if the baby had been born deceased or died just after delivery. El Salvador is one of just six countries in the world that don't allow abortions under any circumstances. (The others are Chile, the Dominican Republic, Malta, Nicaragua, and Vatican City, per the Pew Research Center.) A parliamentary bill is now in circulation to ease the nation's abortion restrictions, but the bill is currently stuck in a legislative committee. The case is "a terrifying example of the need for El Salvador to urgently repeal its retrograde anti-abortion law," says Amnesty International in a release. (A tragic ending to one El Salvadoran woman's pregnancy.)

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