Three Women Imprisoned Under El Salvador’s Abortion Ban Released

Mar 7, 2019
5:55 PM

The following media released was shared on Thursday by Women’s Equality Center. This past Sunday, Latino Rebels Radio talked with the Women’s Equality Center about the fight for abortion rights in Latin America, particularly in El Salvador.

ILOPANGO, EL SALVADOR  Today, El Salvador’s Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ)  commuted the sentences of three women who were unjustly imprisoned as a result of the country’s total abortion ban. Together, Alba Lorena Rodríguez, María del Tránsito Orellana and Cinthia Marcela Rodríguez served a total of 29 years in prison. With their release today the Court acknowledged that the long prison sentences imposed on these women were immoral. More details on their cases are below.

Widely considered to have the most extreme abortion ban in the world, El Salvador is the only country known to regularly prosecute women. More than 25 women remain in prison, many of whom suffered miscarriages, stillbirths and other obstetric emergencies and were later accused of attempting an abortion. As in Alba, María and Cinthia’s cases, these women and girls  come from poor and vulnerable communities.

“Today, three women regained their freedom after a decade of incarceration for crimes they did not commit. While we are overjoyed that brave Alba, María, and Cinthia can finally come home to their families, we cannot mistake today’s victory for justice. More than twenty women remain imprisoned under El Salvador’s dangerous abortion ban.  Tomorrow on International Women’s Day, women will take to the streets of San Salvador demanding the release of the remaining women and urging the government to create commonsense exceptions to the ban. The struggle continues,” said Morena Herrera, a leader in the fight for women’s rights in El Salvador.

“Today is a victory for a few of the women imprisoned unfairly and unjustly in El Salvador. While we celebrate their freedom, we recognize that there are similar laws around the world that make an emergency during a pregnancy a crime. In the United States, states like Tennessee and Georgia have passed restrictive bans that would outlaw abortions after a heartbeat has been detected – endangering and devaluing the lives of pregnant women, effectively making them second class citizens. We deserve better,” said Paula Avila Guillén, Director of Latin America Initiatives at the Women’s Equality Center.

Alba Lorena Rodríguez was raped and became pregnant; at five months, she suffered an obstetric emergency in her home on December 23, 2009. She was transferred to the San Rafael National Hospital, where she was arrested and charged with aggravated homicide. On July 15, 2010 she was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She regained her freedom after nine years, two months and 12 days in prison.

María del Tránsito Orellana worked as a domestic worker when she gave birth outside of a hospital on March 5, 2010. She was transferred to the National Women’s Hospital where she was detained. On October 1, 2010, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. She regained her freedom after nine years and three days in prison.

Cinthia Marcela Rodríguez grew up with limited financial resources, so at an early age she started working as a domestic employee, in a maquila and as an orderly. She gave birth outside of a hospital on July 4, 2008, without any medical assistance. On August 20, 2009 she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. She regained her freedom after 11 years, one month, and 3 days in prison.


About Women’s Equality Center
Women’s Equality Center is a non-partisan project that brings together like-minded organizations to respond to attacks on women’s reproductive health and freedoms. They have begun various initiatives in Latin America in countries that have total bans on abortion including El Salvador, Honduras, and Dominican Republic.