Woman freed by court after being jailed under anti-abortion laws in El Salvador

A Salvadoran woman jailed under El Salvador's tough anti-abortion laws over accusations of attempting abortion as doctors suspected her after she gave birth to a baby girl in a latrine in April, last year.

The child, a result of being sexually assaulted by her stepfather, --who has been arrested and is awaiting trial-- survived the ordeal
though the mother, 20-year-old Imelda Cortez, was arrested and held for more than 18 months in custody as she awaited trial.

Her lawyers, argued before the court that Ms. Cortez was unaware she was pregnant and therefore could not have tried to kill her child but the prosecutors said by not telling anyone about her pregnancy or attempting to seek medical help after giving birth indicated she had the intention of attempting murder --a charge which carries a possible 20-year sentence.

Ms Cortez however admitted to a charge of neglecting her newborn baby, an offence which carries a one-year jail term.

She was however found not guilty of any crime by the court, freeing her to return home.

"This sentence... represents hope for women who are still in prison and are also being tried for aggravated homicide," defence lawyer Ana Martinez told reporters following the verdict.

El Salvador as well as many other Latin America strictly prohibits abortion requiring doctors to report women they suspect of attempting to end her pregnancy , else they too face long jail terms.

More than 100 people convicted of abortion-related crimes in El Salvador since 2000.




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