A Salvadorean woman serving time over an alleged abortion has been released halfway through her 30-year sentence. International campaigners say two dozen women remain behind bars under the country's strict abortion laws.
Maira Figueroa (top photo, center) was released from the Ilopango women's prison in the Salvadorean capital, San Salvador, on Tuesday, having served 15 of her 30-year sentence for aggravated homicide over an alleged abortion.
Figueroa is the second woman jailed under the country's anti-abortion laws to see her sentence commuted by the Supreme Court this year after Teodora Vasquez was freed in February, having served 11 years of a 30-year sentence.
Vasquez was among those waiting to greet Figueroa on her release, and the two women embraced outside the prison walls.
"I'm going to start again and get back the time lost," the 34-year-old told reporters outside the prison after her release.
"I hope that other women are given the opportunity to go free."
Punitive abortion law
Under a 1998 law, all abortions are illegal in El Salvador, even in cases where the pregnancy results from rape or poses a medical threat to the woman.
The country faces international pressure to loosen its strict abortion law and release other women jailed for abortion-related crimes. In November, the UN urged it to issue a moratorium on applying its abortion law and asked authorities to review all such cases in which women had been jailed.
Figueroa was convicted in 2003 by a court in the western city of Ahuachapan.
She had been hospitalized after suffering an obstetric emergency at a home where she worked as a domestic employee.
The baby later died in hospital and "she was arrested and accused of having caused an abortion," the Citizens' Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion (CFDA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The pressure group had petitioned the Supreme Court for her release.
Morena Herrera, the group's coordinator, said 24 other women are still in prison in the predominantly Roman Catholic country for abortions that were classified as homicides under the law.
Five other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean also have an outright ban.
jbh/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)