As It Happens

El Salvador woman jailed over stillbirth freed from 30-year prison sentence

The country's Supreme Court has overturned a 30-year sentence for Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, convicted in July of aggravated homicide under El Salvador's hard-line anti-abortion laws.

Court orders new trial for Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, convicted of homicide under anti-abortion laws

Evelyn Hernandez Cruz, centre, is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador. (Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images)

An El Salvador woman convicted of homicide after giving birth to a stillborn baby emerged from prison on Friday to chants of "You are not alone!"

The country's Supreme Court overturned a 30-year sentence for Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, convicted in July 2017 of aggravated homicide under El Salvador's hard-line anti-abortion laws.

She appealed the conviction, and the court has ordered a new trial. She will be permitted to live at home until then. 

Hernandez maintained throughout her trial that she didn't know she was pregnant when she had a third-trimester stillbirth in a bathroom in April 2016.

But the judge at the time didn't believe her, ruling that her failure to seek medical attention before or during childbirth was tantamount to murder. 

Miscarriages and stillbirths in El Salvador are often treated as suspected abortions, which have been considered murder under Salvadoran law since 1997.

Hernandez told the court she'd been repeatedly raped by a gang member in the small community where she lived. 

Sara Garcia  — a member of the Citizens Association for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador — told As It Happens in July 2017 that Cruz's conviction was "an injustice" and vowed to help her "fight it until the end."

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press

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