Imprisoned for Miscarriage: A Young Mexican Woman Gets 23 Years for Losing Her Baby and Advocates Call for Help

The Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN or Red de Salud in Spanish) is calling for solidarity in support of a 21-year-old Baja California (Mexico) woman sentenced to 23 years in prison for losing her baby.  Red de Salud is a regional network of women’s health and rights organizations in existence since the mid-eighties.

In what Red de Salud calls “a serious case of discrimination and violence against women,” the young woman was sentenced to serve a prison sentence of 23 years for the crime of aggravated homicide (specifically, parricide) for what the accused says was a miscarriage in 2008.

This is the direct result of laws that claim to “protect life from the moment of conception,” or “personhood laws” as they are known in the United States.  These laws establish rights of personhood for fertilized eggs that trump the health and rights of women.

Red de Salud reports that:

On December 26, 2008, amendments to the Constitution of the State of Baja California were adopted to protect life from the moment of conception, similar to reforms promoted in 15 states throughout the Republic. Thanks to such acts of dogmatism and ignorance, contrary to the principle of equality and fundamental rights in general, authorities from three states so far have sought to imprison women who have made decisions with regard to their bodies, exercising their rights to equality and freedom from discrimination and their sexual and reproductive rights.

The case has inspired “an urgent national, regional and international campaign in solidarity.”

According to Red de Salud, “many organizations and individuals committed to equality and women’s citizenship are demanding that the Governor of Baja California, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, authorize the immediate release of the woman, who was sentenced as a murderer and condemned serve a 23-year prison sentence.”

They are also urging the State Congress of Baja California and the president of this legislative body, Nancy Sánchez Arredondo, to observe and enforce regulations protecting women’s human rights, demanding that the State Government respect the separation of Church and State and ensure respect for women’s human rights.

And finally, they are calling on the Human Rights Ombudsman of Baja California protect the rights and legal status of women in that state in order to ensure the effective protection of individual rights, strictly in accordance with the Constitution.

Red is asking for signatures in support of these demands, which can be sent to the following addresses, with a subject line marked: In solidarity, Baja Calfornia. and

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  • saltyc

    According to the link to Red de Salud, she was imprisoned for having an abortion.

  • jodi-jacobson

    The woman lost her baby, due to, as she claims, a miscarriage.

    But as with laws that imbue a fertilized egg with personhood and then focus suspicion on any loss of pregnancy as “an abortion,” in this case the authorities claim it was an abortion.

    She is one among several women in various states of Mexico who have presented at hospitals and then been charged with abortion.

  • crowepps

    Since doctors have no clue why most miscarriages happen spontaneously, without a direct witness who testifies that the woman did X, Y or Z, there is no way to tell whether it was spontaneous or induced.  Which means that whether or not you are found guilty depends more than anything else on whether or not the hospital staff thought you looked ‘nice’.  I’m sure this will discourage lots of women from seeking health care at all, and raise the maternal death rate, but I don’t see how it’s going to ‘discourage abortion’ to jail women for having miscarriages.