U.S. Group Funding El Salvador’s Anti-Abortion Movement

For the first time in decades, El Salvador’s cruel blanket ban on abortion is under threat. The country has become a symbol in the global fight for reproductive justice, very publicly denying young women life-saving abortions and incarcerating people who experience miscarriages. The El Salvador government has gone so far as to stop chemotherapy for pregnant women with cancer, and delay care to women with diagnosed ectopic pregnancies until their fallopian tubes burst. Last month, a teenager who became pregnant after repeated sexual assaults was sentenced to 30 years in prison for delivering a stillborn baby.

Now, after years of feminist organizing, El Salvador’s parliament is considering a bill that would legalize abortion in cases of rape, threat to the pregnant person’s life or when the fetus is unviable. After a series of public hearings and debates, the bill has notable support, but is still facing significant opposition from an organization called Sí a la Vida – which is funded by U.S. anti-abortion advocates.

The Guardian reports that Virginia-based non-profit Human Life International has been financing Sí a la Vida since 2000, just a few years after they successfully pushed for the full criminalization of abortion in El Salvador. Human Life International’s mission is to “provide training and tools needed to combat the Culture of Death and build a Culture of Life” – aka spreading the horrific criminalization of pregnant people. In a 2001 article titled “How to Export Pro-Life Activism” the real life inspiration for the Handmaid’s Tale then-president of Human Life International talks about the pharmaceutical industry’s supposed attack on fertility, why contraception is the same as abortion, and details HLI’s work to get El Salvador’s ban on abortion written into the country’s constitution.

This is misogyny and imperialism wrapped up into one organization. In case you’re feeling as mad as I am, here is a link you can use to tweet at them and here is the phone number HLI provides on its website: 800-549-5433. I wonder what would happen if hundreds of Feministing readers gave them a call and demanded that they immediately stop funding a movement which is denying women access to life-saving healthcare?

Header image via Al Jazeera

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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