If you go down to El Salvador -- and you are a woman -- prepare for your genital area to be surrounded with yellow crime scene tape:
After seeking emergency medical attention for the sudden onset of abdominal cramps and heavy bleeding, a 19-year-old woman in Puerto El Triunfo, El Salvador learned she had miscarried before she knew she was pregnant in the first place.
As reported by BBC News’ Nina Lakhani, Glenda Xiomara Cruz had been getting regular periods and a pregnancy test from a few months earlier had been negative, but none of this stopped the hospital from reporting her to the police under the suspicion of inducing an abortion — a crime in El Salvador.
Xiomara underwent two emergency operations and spent three weeks in the hospital before she was moved to Ilopango women’s prison, where was sentenced to serve
10 years for the loss of the fetus.
She isn’t the first woman in El Salvador to be sent to prison for a sudden miscarriage.
Before we in the United States pat ourselves on the backs for being so advanced, consider the menace against women of Jim DeMint:
... in October 2004, when Tim Russert, the host, asked Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican representative then in the middle of what turned out to be a successful campaign for the U.S. Senate, to explain his position in favor of a total ban on all abortion procedures. DeMint was reluctant to answer Russert's repeated question: Would you prosecute a woman who had an abortion? DeMint said he thought Congress should outlaw all abortions first and worry about the fallout later. "We've got to make laws first that protect life," he said. "How those laws are shaped are going to be a long debate."It appears that, according to Salvadoran law, if a physician, during the course of a routine vaginal exam, discovered that a woman had ever had an abortion that physician would be required to turn that vagina over to Salvadoran authorities for further examination -- as a crime scene.
Russert refused to leave the congressman alone. "Who would you prosecute?" he persisted.
Finally DeMint blurted, "You know, I can't come up with all the laws as we're sitting right here, but the question is, Are we going to protect human life with our laws?"
In El Salvador, the law is clear: the woman is a felon and must be prosecuted. According to Tópez, after a report comes in from a doctor or a hospital that a woman has arrived who is suspected of having had an abortion, and after the police are dispatched, investigators start procuring evidence of the crime. In that first stage, Tópez has 72 hours to make the case to a justice of the peace that there should be a further investigation. If enough evidence is collected, she presents the case before a magistrate to get authorization for a full criminal trial before a judge.
And we have some really serious problems here in our own nation, especially in the South with Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Governor "Vaginal Probe" Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
A prominent feminist once told me of a woman driving through Pennsylvania who was having an unusually heavy menstrual flow and stopped at an emergency room (unfortunately, in a Roman Catholic hospital) and was denied medical care because the people there thought she had had an abortion. And, my own physician daughter told me of a similar case in a Roman Catholic hospital where they refused to terminate a pregnancy in a dangerously ill woman until the fetus had died.
Priesthood be damned. What about a woman's basic right to life?