El Salvador congress upholds total abortion ban

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador’s congress voted yet again Wednesday to uphold the country’s total ban on abortions.

Women’s rights groups had petitioned congress to approve at least exceptions in the case of rape, risk to a woman’s health or life-threatening deformities. But the body voted 73 to 11 to maintain the current law.

Legislators said the country’s constitutional right-to-life article passed in 1998 made any changes impossible. Congress has been asked three times before to return to the pre-1998 exceptions, but has refused each time.

Populist President Nayib Bukele has backed the ban, which is among the harshest in the hemisphere, along with Nicaragua. Bukele also opposes same-sex marriage.

There are currently 40 women serving prison sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years for convictions related to abortions.