A Salvadoran court on Monday acquitted a woman accused of homicide after giving birth to a stillborn baby in a case that drew international attention to the socially conservative nation’s strict abortion ban.
Evelyn Hernandez, 21, was previously convicted of intentionally inducing an abortion and had already served three years of a 30-year prison sentence.
“Thank God, justice was done,” Hernandez, in tears, told a cheering crowd outside the courthouse. “There are many women who are still locked up and I call for them to be freed soon, too.”
In February, the Supreme Court ordered Hernandez released and retried, saying that the original judge’s decision was based on prejudice and insufficient evidence.
Hernandez was raped by a gang member and said she was unaware of her pregnancy until just shortly before she gave birth to a stillborn son in April 2016.
“This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, said about the verdict.
Some 147 Salvadoran women have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison in such cases between 2000 and 2014, according to the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a local rights group.
The group said it will seek fresh reviews of at least 16 similar cases, Reuters reports.
Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, @amnesty calls on #ElSalvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nationâs draconian anti-abortion laws. https://t.co/jiRQ6s5OPH pic.twitter.com/OLu4TeqJwC— Erika Guevara-Rosas (@ErikaGuevaraR) August 19, 2019