Giving Compass' Take:
- After having a stillbirth, Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was sentenced to 30 years in prison in El Salvador. She tells her story of resistance here.
- Why was Vásquez incarcerated rather than being given help? How does her situation illustrate the oppression women in poverty face everyday?
- Read more about stillbirths resulting in incarceration.
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On Friday, July 13, 2007, I was living a desired and full-term pregnancy. It was a "Friday the 13th" that I will remember forever. I believe that what I lived through was part of my destiny.
I was nine months pregnant and getting ready for my baby to be born. I was working in a school coffee shop. It was the last day of the week and I was getting ready to deliver my baby on Saturday. However, that Friday around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I began to feel pain, a very strong labor pain. Since it was Friday, my colleagues had left early, so I was alone. The pain started — and I had to stay there because it was a four-hour drive from San Salvador to my house.
I grabbed the phone and started making emergency calls. I called 911, because in my agony I only remembered that number, and asked for an ambulance. I explained that I was pregnant, that I was expecting my baby and I was in labor — that I couldn't stand the pain, that I needed the doctors to come urgently. They didn't come. They never came. And since they never came, my baby had to be born where I was. I had horrible bleeding and I fainted.
According to the medical examiner who later analyzed the case, my baby did not breathe. She had died before she was born. The truth is that no determination was ever made and we’ll never know what happened. To this day, the reason for the death of my newborn was never determined. But they never blamed themselves for not arriving sooner. They are really guilty for what happened because no one gave me medical attention.
Poverty is the first thing that is condemned. That is why, instead of helping me, they put me in jail and sentenced me to 30 years. If you are poor, you have no opportunities. And if you are a woman and you are alone, it is worse for you. Many women in my country fall victim to the judicial system, mostly accused of abortion, charged with aggravated murder.
Read the full article about reproductive rights by Teodora del Carmen Vásquez at Global Citizen.