Catholic, pro-life organization Human Life International has been discretely funding advocates of El Salvador’s abortion ban since 2000, just three years after it was implemented, The Guardian reported Thursday.
El Salvador is one of many Latin American countries that has maintained severe sanctions against abortion, at times sentencing women to decades of prison for miscarriages.
Human rights activists in the Central American country claim the results have been devastating.
“The abortion ban isn’t about protecting lives, it’s a law based in misogyny in which women’s lives don’t matter, and which encourages sexual and structural violence against women to be accepted,” Sara Garcia, a campaigner with the Citizen’s Group for Decriminalization of Abortion, CDFA, told The Guardian.
“Any group which supports the ban and is against the reform is promoting inequality, imprisonment and hate towards women.”
Between 2000 to 2007, Human Life International reportedly donated US$47,360 to its Salvadoran branch, known as the Yes to Life Foundation. The local group is El Salvador’s strongest supporter of the ban.
Between 2008 and 2014, the Yes to Life Foundation received another US$615,432 from its Virginia patron.
Although Human Life International’s tax forms trace monetary assistance to the foundation beginning in 2000, Salvadoran news coverage from the 90s show collaborations between the two groups as they lobbied for the eventual passing of the abortion ban.
Officials at Human Life International declined to be interviewed, according to The Guardian.
Earlier this month, a teenage rape victim in El Salvador was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she suffered from what her lawyers said was a stillbirth. Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, 19, from a small rural community in Cuscatlan, eastern El Salvador, was convicted of "aggravated homicide.”
According to the CDFA, 129 women were convicted of abortion-related crimes between 2000 and 2011 in El Salvador. As of 2015, at least 26 women were facing charges of murder.