Imagine living someplace where having a miscarriage could make you a criminal.

Pregnancy is supposed to be happy, but it's also scary. Sometimes it goes wrong.

Christina's miscarriage almost killed her.

She left the hospital heartbroken and in handcuffs. A few months later, she was in jail — sentenced for 30 years for "aggravated homicide." They accused her of an illegal abortion.

Tragically, Christina's case is not an isolated incident.

She was very lucky that a lawyer, Dennis Stanley Muñoz Rosa, happened upon her case and got her released after serving four of the 30 years to which she was sentenced. Other women in El Salvador are not that fortunate and are forced to serve sentences as long as 50 years for having their miscarriages classified as abortions.


In El Salvador, and four other countries, women who go to hospitals following a miscarriage are regularly reported to police for "suspected abortion."

Hundreds of women have been reported to the police since the Central American country passed its ban. Because their bodies are considered the scene of the crime, evidence-gathering procedures are traumatic and invasive. They occur while a woman is still recovering from her miscarriage.

According to the BBC, every case reported from 2000 to 2011 in El Salvador researched by Citizens Group for Decriminalization of Abortion came from public hospitals that serve people who can't afford to get higher quality care from expensive private hospitals. But these hospitals often fail to find compelling evidence that proves the woman intentionally ended her pregnancy.

"Not a single criminal case originated from the private health sector where thousands of abortions are believed to take place annually." — BBC

When Dennis Stanley Muñoz Rosa, the lawyer who took interest in Christina's case, was interviewed by the BBC and cited another case he was working on at the time: A hospital staff member testified that the woman in question "might have" been pregnant 11 whole months before she came to the hospital with severe pain and bleeding.


Activists in the country have hope that in the future, fewer women will be jailed for miscarriages.

Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez, a live-in domestic servant, became pregnant at 18 years old after being raped by her employer. After the home delivery of a stillborn baby she continued to bleed heavily and went to a public hospital. The hospital reported her to the police and she was convicted of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Dennis Stanley Muñoz Rosa again was instrumental in highlighting the lack of evidence in her case and getting her released. Because the pardon specifically cited judicial error, local activists believe they can pry open this crack to get more women out of prison.

"The prosecution of these women is based on prejudice not proof and starts from a presumption of guilt; a presumption that because they are poor and uneducated, they killed their babies because they didn't want them and couldn't care for them. The evidence is that there is a dead baby, a woman and the forensic evidence establishes they are mother and child. That's it." — Muñoz Rosa in the Telegraph


El Salvador's high teenage pregnancy rate paired with its low rape reporting rate has some government officials worried.

The head of youth and adolescent development at El Salvador's health ministry has publicly stated that he believes the law and its aggressive enforcement is driving pregnant teenagers to suicide or dangerous "backstreet abortions."

Amnesty International, the United Nations, and several European countries are calling on El Salvador to end this practice.

Amnesty International published a shocking report of how damaging these law have been for Salvadoran women and girls.

One gynecologist, speaking to Amnesty International in early 2014, describedthe treatment received by pregnant girls:

“In the last six months, we had four cases of girls aged between 10 and 14 years old, whosebabies were forming without kidneys. [Such babies] die at birth. It wasn't just that they madethem carry the pregnancy to term, but also that when they explained to them that the babyhad this condition, they said it was the girl's fault for having got pregnant. It's outrageousbecause it's a congenital defect, it has nothing to do with what she's done… but that is whatthe doctors told them when they gave them the news." – Amnesty International report, p. 27

No one should leave a hospital in handcuffs after having a miscarriage. Give these women voice by sharing this post.

More

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture