February 15, 2018 / 4:55 PM / 7 days ago

El Salvador frees woman imprisoned under anti-abortion laws

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - An El Salvadoran woman, serving a 30-year prison term for allegedly aborting her child, was freed on Thursday after the country’s Supreme Court reduced her sentence.

Since 1997, El Salvador has had one of the world’s most severe laws against women who have had abortions or those who are suspected of assisting others with abortions.

Prosecutors maintain that Teodora Vasquez, a 34-year-old chef, strangled her baby after it was born in 2007. Her lawyers said she had health complications and had suffered a stillbirth.

Vasquez appealed the 30-year penalty upheld by a lower court and El Salvador’s Supreme court reduced her sentence.

She has spent more than 10 years in jail.

“My effort has been worth it and now I‘m very happy to go back to my family again,” Vasquez said after leaving prison, surrounded by family and cheering human rights activists.

Amnesty International said the resolution was encouraging but that the case should help end the country’s ban, under which at least 27 other women are still incarcerated.

“El Salvador is still far from fully ensuring the rights of women and girls in the country,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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