Woman cleared of murder over stillbirth in El Salvador
© iStock

A woman in El Salvador who gave birth to a stillborn baby after she said she was raped by a gang member at 18 was reportedly cleared of murder in a retrial Monday. 

Evelyn Hernández said she did not know she was pregnant and lost consciousness while giving birth to the stillborn child in a bathroom. She said she regained consciousness in an emergency room where she was detained by police, BuzzFeed News reported.

Prosecutors had asked for Hernández to receive a prison sentence up to 40 years, BBC reported.


Abortion in the Central American nation is illegal in all cases, even when the woman’s life is in danger.

During the retrial, defense lawyers argued evidence was ignored in the first trial, and focused on the presence of meconium in the baby’s lungs as proof that it died of asphyxiation, BuzzFeed News reported. 

Hernández, now 21, had served 33 months in jail before her sentence was annulled in February after an appeal from her lawyers.  

Her situation is not unique in El Salvador. Advocacy groups say there are at least 17 other women in jail under the country’s strict abortion laws, BBC reported. 

“We celebrate today, but we keep fighting tomorrow," Paula Ávila-Guillén, director of Latin America Initiatives at the Women’s Equality Center, told BuzzFeed News after the decision. 

Hernández’s trial is the first to be heard under new President Nayib Bukele, who has expressed more sympathy for poor women who miscarry and are accused of abortion, giving hope to women’s groups looking for more leniency on the issue.