El Salvador congress upholds total abortion ban

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FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2017 file photo, women protest demanding the government free women prisoners who are serving 30-year prison sentences for having an abortion, in San Salvador, El Salvador. Lawmakers rejected on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, reforming the Penal Code to exempt those who consent to or perform an abortion from criminal responsibility, thus closing the doors to allow it even when a woman's life is at risk. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador’s congress voted yet again Wednesday to uphold the country’s total ban on abortions.

Women’s rights groups had petitioned congress to approve at least exceptions in the case of rape, risk to a woman’s health or life-threatening deformities. But the body voted 73 to 11 to maintain the current law.

Legislators said the country’s constitutional right-to-life article passed in 1998 made any changes impossible. Congress has been asked three times before to return to the pre-1998 exceptions, but has refused each time.

Populist President Nayib Bukele has backed the ban, which is among the harshest in the hemisphere, along with Nicaragua. Bukele also opposes same-sex marriage.

There are currently 40 women serving prison sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years for convictions related to abortions.

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