January 22, 2015 / 3:55 AM / 6 years ago

El Salvador woman jailed over abortion pardoned by Congress

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s Congress on Wednesday pardoned a woman accused of abortion and later sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide in a landmark case that has put the country’s harsh laws under the spotlight.

The vote may signal similar relief for other women who have been convicted and sentenced to jail for abortion, which was criminalized in El Salvador in 1997.

Domestic worker Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez had already served seven years of her sentence prior to the pardon.

In 2007, Vasquez suffered major complications during her pregnancy and her child died shortly after she gave birth.

She was initially accused of the crime of abortion, which carries up to eight years in prison, but the charge was later dropped and replaced with aggravated murder charges.

Leftists members of Congress voted for the pardon, led by lawmakers from the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), while the conservative National Republican Alliance (Arena) voted against it.

“This case establishes a precedent for justice for poor women who have been criminalized for the supposed crime of homicide without proof,” said Jorge Menjivar, a spokesman for El Salvador’s leading activist group seeking the decriminalization of abortion.

At least 129 individuals have been jailed under the country’s abortion law, according to official figures.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by David Alire Garcia

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