FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2017 file photo, women demand the government free women prisoners who are serving 30-year prison sentences for having an abortion, outside court in San Salvador, El Salvador. After spending 10 years in prison, three women who were sentenced to 30 years for aggravated homicide were freed on Thursday, March 7, 2019 after their sentences were annulled by the El Salvador Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

El Salvador frees 3 women jailed for 10 years for abortion

March 07, 2019 - 6:00 pm

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador's Supreme Court on Thursday commuted the 30-year sentences of three women imprisoned for abortion convictions, lessening their punishment to time served and ordering them released immediately.

The three women had spent about 10 years in prison on aggravated homicide charges for allegedly having abortions. All claimed they had miscarriages.

The court found that the women were victims of social and economic circumstances and ruled that the original sentences were unreasonable.

"In all three cases, the court recognized that the women have had adverse social, economic and family situations, and the sentences were disproportionate and immoral," said the Foundation for Research on the Application of the Law.

Upon being released from the women's prison in the capital, Alba Lorena Rodriguez, 31, said, "We hope the government will recognize that a lot of women in here are innocent, and God willing, they will be freed."

An additional 18 women remain behind bars for abortion convictions in El Salvador, where abortion is illegal in all situations.

Cinthia Marcela Rodriguez, 30, had no medical insurance when she was arrested in 2008 after what she said was a miscarriage. The court commuted her sentence "for reasons of equity and justice, based on her economic, social and personal situation."

"Justice is slow," Rodriguez told a crowd of supporters as she left prison. "Keep fighting for the 18 who remain inside."

The Citizen's Group for Decriminalizing Abortion said the high court's rulings "set a judicial precedent to review the situations of other women who remain in prison."

In February, the court overturned another woman's 30-year abortion sentence, ordering a new trial for her.

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