Six countries in the world have bans on abortion under all circumstances, four of those are in Latin America. Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have the strictest abortion laws in the world even prohibiting abortion to save a woman’s life. El Salvador has prosecuted 150 women for abortion with 49 women being convicted and 26 charged with homicide. Legally, doctors must report any woman that they suspect has had an abortion and women could face anywhere from two to eight years in prison.
Hundreds of women sit behind bars in El Salvador punished for defying the ban on abortion. Many, such as María Teresa Rivera are pleading they are wrongly jailed for having suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. Three years ago Rivera miscarried and awoke handcuffed to her hospital bed surrounded by seven policemen who proceeded to charge her with murder.1 After an eight-month trial, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated murder.
Brazil has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. So, it comes as no surprise that even in the context of pregnancies affected by the Zika virus, Brazil is faced with theological and political challenges.
In most countries labeled as “developing country,” it is typical for birthrates to be extremely high, while health and education levels are low. But Cuba is an exception to the developing country rule: ever since the Castro Revolution in 1959, even with the label of “developing country,” Cuba has had extremely high levels of education and a world renowned health care system. Another aspect in which Cuba remains an outlier is their birthrate.
The government of El Salvador has released a suggestion for women to delay becoming pregnant until 2018 due to the outbreak of the Zika virus. El Salvador is one of several countries (including Jamaica, Colombia, and Ecuador) to make such a suggestion but theirs is the most contradictory of them all considering their extremely strict anti-abortion laws and hard-to-access forms of contraception.