UN Experts Say Mothers Who Killed Their Newborns Must Go Free

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | February 5, 2015

NEW YORK, February 6 (C-Fam) Guadalupe was convicted of murdering her newborn baby. Her case failed multiple appeals. But now she is is free, courtesy of a multi-year campaign by abortion groups and pressure from UN officials.

Six UN experts praised El Salvador for pardoning Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana last week. She was 7 years into a 30-year sentence after being found guilty of murder. Her case is the centerpiece in a campaign to depict El Salvador’s abortion laws as oppressive and unfair.

The “Las17” campaign says Guadalupe and 16 other women are victims of the country’s restrictive laws, which they claim have incarcerated hundreds of women.

Pro-life groups, which represent the public sentiment in the Central American nation that constitutionally protects human life from conception, are outraged that UN experts are lending their support to abortion activists.

“They keep repeating the same lies over and over,” said Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Yes to Life Foundation (Si a la Vida). The case of Guadalupe was never about abortion, she explained.

Cardenal told the Friday Fax that all 17 cases cited by the UN experts involved babies that were carried to full term or near full term and then born alive. In Gaudalupe’s case, the baby was 8 months in the womb. Cardenal described the cases as “grotesque.” These women would ostensibly be found guilty of the same crime anywhere in the world, she explained.

The UN experts said they “wholeheartedly welcome” the decision to pardon Guadalupe. They also called on El Salvador to make abortion legal in cases where a child is disabled, unwanted, or when a mother’s life is at risk.

“El Salvador must comply with its international obligations and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights,” they said.

“They looked in all our jails and could not find even one woman convicted of abortion,” Cardenal said, referring to the accusation that women who miscarry are jailed, accused of committing abortions

“But they found several women guilty of infanticide,” she added. All 17 convictions involve gruesome circumstances. Cardenal provided photographs from the cases of full term babies that had been strangled, their skull pierced, and their throats slit.

The campaign spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights and picked up by the Organization of American States seems to have paid off with Guadalupe’s release. Even so, some parliamentarians are challenging her pardon alleging there was a fraudulent vote count. Six of the cases were denied outright, and one is moot because the woman served her full sentence. The Supreme Court is reviewing the nine remaining cases, with no deadline for a decision.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in El Salvador the same week Guadalupe was released. Ban and the UN system have been hounding the country to make abortion legal at every venue at their disposal.

It is unclear if El Salvador’s President solicited the opinion of the UN experts. The expert’s mandates do not foresee campaigning of this kind. Moreover, there is no right to abortion in international law. According to the San Jose Articles when UN entities promote abortion as an international human rights obligation they are actually violating international law.

This isn’t the first time women guilty of infanticide are made out to be victims of restrictive abortion laws. In 2006 the New York Times Magazine was embroiled in this same narrative and partially retracted its story.