Marie Claire Magazine
Text by Jason Motlagh and Suez Taylor
As the abortion wars rage here at home, El Salvador, the country with the strictest anti-abortion laws—where women are put in prison or risk death to avoid having a baby—shows how we might live in a world without reproductive rights.
On the morning of her arrest in 2008, Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez woke up with the fetus of a stillborn child lying in a pool of blood between her legs. Nearly nine months before, the 18-year-old had been raped by a neighbor who'd warned her that her corpse would be found in a black plastic bag if she dared tell anyone. Vásquez, with long dark hair that cloaks somber eyes, had dropped out of school in second grade to work as a live-in domestic servant in San Salvador, El Salvador's capital city. Her mother needed the money Vásquez earned to support eight children after her father had abandoned them. Vásquez decided to keep the child and said nothing—not to her mother, who wondered why her belly was swelling without a steady man in her life, or to her employer, for fear of losing her $80-a-month job (she hid her bump with baggy clothes). "Every day, I asked myself, How can I give this baby a good life?" she recalls.
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