An El Salvador court has decided to uphold the 30-year prison sentence of a woman convicted of aggravated homicide of her baby who she claims was stillborn.
Teodora del Carmen Vásquez experienced intense pain and bleeding in 2007 and fainted while at work. When she came round, police officers surrounded her and arrested her for inducing a late-term abortion.
Prosecutors accused Vásquez of strangling her baby. In 2008 she was found guilty of homicide.
Her lawyers and three doctors told the court that she had a stillbirth after suffering from health complications. They presented evidence that the baby was born dead.
On Wednesday (13 December), the court rejected Vásquez's appeal, a decision that Amnesty International has condemned as "deeply tragic and very unjust".
"Teodora's tragic story is a sad illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador, where human rights seem to be a foreign concept," said Amnesty International's Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas.
"Instead of punishing Teodora for being a woman, authorities in El Salvador must urgently take a hard look at their outrageous anti-abortion law and take immediate steps to repeal it," she said.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which has been campaigning for the release of dozens of women behind bars for obstetric emergencies, said that the ruling was "another slap in the face for Teodora, who never committed any crime".
"The Salvadoran court is perpetuating the criminal prosecution of women who suffer pregnancy complications, denying women their dignity, freedom and rights," the centre's CEO, Nancy Northup, said. "El Salvador's abortion law criminalises and wrongfully imprisons women. Today the Salvadoran court chose to deny Teodora her due process."
El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world. In 1998, a total ban on abortion was introduced. Under the current legislation, women who are accused of having an abortion can face up to 50 years in prison.