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My friend suggested that I write a poem addressing the

subject of the women in El Salvador who have been imprisoned

after being accused of self-terminations- sometimes when they

allegedly have just had stillbirths. I was unaware of this until I

researched the topic and discovered material on the group Las 17.

The prison terms are in the region of decades.


In El Salvador, there’s an assumption,

in many cases, that a miscarriage

is the consequence of an abortion.

Girls who have been raped can lose their freedom.

A premature, or unviable birth

can result in a forty year sentence.

How can a country of that name sentence

women when it reveres the Assumption

of a Virgin? Supernatural birth

protected Mary from a miscarriage

when she experienced threats to her freedom:

state infanticide, worse than abortion?

Las 17, accused of abortion –

each subjected to a lengthy sentence,

in a land whose motto includes ‘Freedom.’

Youngsters, trafficked, can face an assumption

which might lead to judicial miscarriage,

as ‘Mata Ninos.’ They’re victims from birth.

After civil war there should be re-birth,

with an enlightened view of abortion

and understanding that a miscarriage

is, for women, a kind of life sentence.

And why should the state make an assumption

that stillbirth expresses woman’s freedom?

Accused of homicide, denied freedom,

because of complications to a birth –

to disregard is to make assumption

and logic itself suffers abortion.

The powerful deliver the sentence

and fear itself can induce miscarriage.

There’s no calculation in miscarriage.

It’s spontaneous – there is no freedom

expressed. Those women uttered no sentence:

I now intend to sabotage this birth,

nor ‘Drinking this will promote abortion.’

Blame’s an ignorant assumption.

Restricting freedom; pronouncing sentence

on those who endure miscarriage, stillbirth:

abortion of innocence assumption.