With some stories, I'm not sure where to begin, because the news has me stunned and almost speechless. I want to turn away, block it out and find something happy to do, or something else to think about, or write about. But I can't. And so I begin.
Last week, a young woman in El Salvador who goes by the alias name of 'Guadalupe,' had very high hopes, and was all but assured she would receive a pardon from her 30-year sentence. She had already served seven years, starting in her teens. Her alleged crime? Fetal homicide. She miscarried, and was charged with murder.
Her pardon didn't come. Guadalupe's freedom was one vote short. Her fate was determined by a Right-Wing congressional majority of 43-42. I can't write about something like this and not feel like I've been punched in the stomach again and again. Guadalupe represents every woman. This is what happens when abortion is illegal. El Salvador is known to be one of the worst countries in the world for women's reproductive rights.
According to Tim Rogers at Fusion.net:
All forms of abortion are illegal in El Salvador. And though there was no indication that Guadalupe, a mother of one, intentionally terminated her pregnancy, the doctors snitched her out to save themselves from any criminal liability.
Guadalupe, who never saw the inside of a fifth grade classroom, was interrogated in her hospital bed without a lawyer. The Kafkaesque trial was brutal and swift. Before Guadalupe knew what was happening, she was sentenced to 30 years in jail and thrown behind bars with convicted murders.
If Guadalupe’s story sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Not only does El Salvador have one of the most draconian anti-abortion laws in the world, but authorities there apply the tyrannical law with an aggressiveness that borders on obsessive. Dozens of Salvadoran women — mostly young, and all poor — are behind bars for homicide
At least 29 women are behind bars in El Salvador for abortion/miscarriage. A group of them called, #Las17
, are serving between 12-40 years with the oldest being 29, reports Rogers.
Here is a short video by the Center For Reproductive Rights created to expose El Salvador's atrocious treatment of women. Most victims of reproductive injustices are from impoverished communities. No, these are not laws for the rich.
Sadly, we can't say this would never happen to us in America, because it's happening.
Currently, at least 38 states have fetal homicide laws. The states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. At least 23 states have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy ("any state of gestation," "conception," "fertilization" or "post-fertilization"). Read more at NCSL.
Last fall, I wrote a Daily Kos diary entailing five horrific American injustices against pregnant women, via a study reported in the New York Times. I must warn it also contains stories, like this, that may be emotionally triggering:
DC Judge Forces Woman To Have Cesarean & She Dies - 5 Shocking Injustices Against Pregnant Women
The battle for reproductive freedom is an ongoing struggle that will most likely continue past our lifetimes. We continue this fight for our daughters, and granddaughters, because our mothers, grandmothers, and pro-choice supporters (male and female) did the same for us. There are many ways we can show our support. Here are 10 large/small pro-choice organizations/Facebook pages you can visit/join now. They offer ways to help and be helped.
NAF/National Abortion Federation
Fight Laws Against Women
Abigail Adams Brigade
The Guttmacher Institute is an excellent source of current reproductive rights legislation.
The only way I can think to end this story, is to ask folks to share it, whether it's this diary, the video, or any article(s) about the story. By getting the information out to the public, we keep Guadalupe, and others like her, from getting lost in the shuffle. Nothing will change until more of the world becomes aware. Only then can we find solutions, create positive change and prevent it from happening again.
Thanks to Collier Meyerson/Jezebel for sharing the story.
Special thanks to, Kossack ExpatGirl. The camaraderie in the Daily Kos Community is amazing. If you're not a member, take a minute to register. Then join us in the comments or think about writing your own diaries and articles. This is a wonderful platform to get your voice/causes heard by larger audiences.)