The 19-year-old was charged with aggravated murder.
An El Salvadorian teenager was just sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated murder after the female judge sided with the prosecution and claimed that the teen intentionally put the baby in a toilet after giving birth. The 19-year-old, Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, was arrested while she was in the hospital due to complications while giving birth in April 2016.
Hernandez was just a minor when she was repeatedly raped by a local gang member and claims that she didn’t know that she was pregnant as a result of the rapes. She was in her third trimester when she allegedly had severe back and abdominal pains that led her to give birth in the outhouse of her family’s rural home. Hernandez said that she wasn’t even aware that she given birth because she passed out while in the outhouse.
Her mother reportedly took her to the hospital after she passed and hospital staff reported Hernandez once they learned that the teen’s pain originated from her recently giving birth. Officials found the baby’s remains in the outhouse and immediately arrested the teenager. She spent one week handcuffed to her hospital bed while she was treated for anemia and a urinary tract infection.
El Salvador is one of five nations that has a ban on abortion no matter what the circumstance may be. Abortion was criminalized 20 years ago, but lawmakers recently drew up a bill that would allow exceptions for abortions, which would include allowing women who had been raped to terminate their pregnancy. However, after several months, the legislation has not even been voted on and remains a mere pipe dream for proponents of giving women the choice in regards to abortion.
This strict anti-abortion law is exactly why the judge ruled that what she regarded as a failure to seek antenatal care was actually murder. She refused to believe that the baby was a stillborn, despite medical experts being unable to determine if the baby died before or after birth. The judge even suggested that the mother was likely in on the scheme and may also be criminally involved.
While Hernandez, a teenage rape victim who became pregnant as a result of the assault, is set to spend the next 30 years of her life as an inmate for having a stillbirth and her rapist has remained free. This is a gross miscarriage of justice, and people from El Salvador and around the world have been protesting this decision ever since the ruling.
“El Salvador’s anti-abortion law is causing nothing, but pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families. It goes against human rights and it has no place in the country or anywhere,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
Human rights advocates have pointed to this ruling being about the judge and prosecution’s own sense of morality rather than an adherence to law because there was no actual evidence that Hernandez purposefully killed the baby after giving birth. In fact, it’s likely that if Hernandez had knowingly given birth and the mother knew about it, they would killed the baby and disposed of it elsewhere while seeking medical care at home to avoid suspicion. None of these events occurred and, as a result of the situation they suddenly found themselves in, this 19-year-old no longer has a future and the family no longer has a free daughter. If you would like to sign the petition to overturn this verdict, you can do so here.