Abortion in El Salvador is illegal in all cases, no exceptions, and is vigorously prosecuted. The woman who had the abortion and anyone who helped in any way are considered to have committed a felony.
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Julia Regina de Cardenal runs the Yes to Life Foundation in San Salvador, which provides prenatal care and job training to poor pregnant women. She was a key advocate for the passage of the ban. She argued that the existing law's exception for the life of the mother was outdated. As she explained to me, "There does not exist any case in which the life of the mother would be in danger, because technology has advanced so far."and
In the event that the woman's illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government's doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.and
According to Sara Valdés, the director of the Hospital de Maternidad, women coming to her hospital with ectopic pregnancies cannot be operated on until fetal death or a rupture of the fallopian tube...."Once we determine that they have an ectopic pregnancy, we make sure they stay in the hospital," she said. The women are sent to the dispensary, where they receive a daily ultrasound to check the fetus. "If it's dead, we can operate," she said. "Before that, we can't." If there is a persistent fetal heartbeat, then they have to wait for the fallopian tube to rupture.and
many of the people I talked to in El Salvador, including Tópez, the prosecutor, said there was a rule of thumb: if an aborted fetus weighs more than 500 grams, or a little more than a pound, then you can argue that the fetus was viable.(If the fetus was viable, the woman who obtained the abortion faces a charge of aggravated homicide, which carries a sentence of 30-50 years in prison.)