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El Salvador Considers Changes to Hyper-Strict Abortion Policy

LADB Article ID: 80299
Category/Department: El Salvador
Date: 2017-05-18
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

El Salvador’s total ban on abortion, long a source of concern for local and international rights groups, is now a subject of serious debate in the legislature, raising hopes among the policy’s many opponents that change may finally be in the air. The debate centers around a government-backed bill, submitted last October, that proposes scaling back the blanket ban to allow exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or for so-called “therapeutic” abortions, when a fetus is considered nonviable or the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the mother’s health. The legislation was introduced by the then-president of the Asamblea Legislativa (Legislative Assembly, AL), Lorena Peña of the governing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, FMLN), which promises full support should the measure go to a full vote in the unicameral legislature. Peña, now the vice-president of the AL, is the FMLN’s highest-ranking deputy. El Salvador is one of just a handful of countries to prohibit abortion outright, even in cases where terminating a pregnancy could save the mother’s life. The no-exceptions policy dates back to the late 1990s, when it was pushed through by conservative lawmakers from Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA), the governing party at the time.

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