María Teresa Rivera, one of Las 17 in El Salvador, is freed on appeal

In November 2011, María Teresa Rivera, one of Las 17, unexpectedly went into labour, giving birth in the latrine of her home. The birth was dangerous and unattended by a medical professional. The fetus died. As with other women in El Salvador, where abortion is completely illegal and miscarriage and stillbirth are sometimes treated as homicide, Rivera’s medical crisis led to her being charged with and convicted of aggravated homicide, and she was sentenced in 2012 to 40 years in prison.Her case was scheduled for appeal on 20 May. Advocates say that her case could influence public sentiment about other similar cases around the country. With the support of the Salvadoran feminist organization Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, Rivera has been fighting for her freedom for several years. In 2014, along with the rest of Las 17, she requested a pardon from the Salvadoran government, but her request was denied.On 20 May, the Third Court, at the conclusion of a hearing of “extraordinary review of judgment” recognized that, not having sufficient evidence to prove the commission of a crime by María Teresa Rivera, the court’s conviction of her in 2012 was a judicial error. The previous judgment was therefore annulled and she was immediately granted her freedom.SOURCES: Rewire, 10 May 2016 and Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, 21 May 2016