The Supreme Court of El Salvador ordered the release on Thursday of three women who had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for not having aborted their pregnancies.
The three women, who claim to have suffered spontaneous abortions, had been found guilty of homicide.
Alba Rodríguez and María del Tránsito Orellana had already served nine years of their sentence, while Cinthia Rodríguez had been in jail for more than 11 years.
El Salvador has some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world.
Women who have an abortion face sentences of two to eight years in prison that can increase to 40 years if they are found guilty of aggravated homicide.
And dozens of Salvadoran women have been sent to jail for the death of their fetuses even when they claim to have suffered miscarriages or stillbirths.
“I am very happy to have regained my freedom, to be reunited with my family,” Cinthia Rodríguez told the press after leaving prison.
The three women were notified of the court’s decision to commute their sentences through a letter from the Deputy Minister of Justice and Security of El Salvador on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Disproportionate and immoral
According to the Citizens Association for the Decriminalization of Therapeutic, Ethical and Eugenic Abduction (ACDATEE), the court determined that the women were serving “disproportionate and immoral” sentences.
The highest court also concluded that their families were being negatively affected by their imprisonment.
Activists say that during the past 10 years at least 30 women imprisoned under El Salvador’s strict anti-abortion laws have been released after new trials or judicial reviews.
However, at least 20 other women remain in prison.
Last month, Evelyn Beatriz Hernández Cruz, 20, was released after the court ordered a new trial.
The young woman had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for having given birth to a stillborn in the latrine of her house.
The international human rights organization Amnesty International says that El Salvador “is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman.”