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El Salvador lawmakers overwhelmingly reject challenge to country's complete abortion ban

Jailed for Abortion in El Salvador
Jailed for Abortion in El Salvador 22:37

San Salvador — El Salvador's Congress voted on Wednesday to uphold the country's complete abortion ban, ruling against terminations even in exceptional circumstances. Salvadoran law prohibits the procedure in all cases — punishable by up to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors and judges classify some cases of abortion, even involuntary ones, as "aggravated homicide," punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

"We have legislated in favor of protecting life from its conception," Rebeca Santos, congresswoman for the ruling New Ideas party, said after the vote.

Opposition Congress member Dina Argueta, however, slammed the "lack of interest in giving women a right."

"Not considering abortion on specific grounds is a violation of their rights, as they are forced to accept situations that often endanger their lives," Argueta said.

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The vote was on a petition brought in September by women's rights groups, seeking exceptions to the abortion ban.

The proposed changes would have allowed terminations to save the mother's life; in the case of a life-threatening fetal deformity; and if the pregnancy "is the result of sexual violence."

But on Wednesday the petition was overwhelmingly rejected in Congress.

Human rights organizations have called for an end to the total ban on abortion, under which women and girls are routinely imprisoned, even after enduring stillbirths and miscarriages.

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