San Salvador, El Salvador, May 16, 2022 / 17:30 pm (CNA).
A Salvadoran medical expert has debunked the false claims about abortion in El Salvador made by a former journalist now working for Planned Parenthood.
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, Dr. José Miguel Fortín-Magaña Leiva, a psychiatrist and former Director General of the Dr. Roberto Masferrer Institute of Forensic Medicine of El Salvador, said that Kate Smith, a former CBS News reporter who a few weeks ago became Planned Parenthood’s new senior director of news content, “is at best absolutely mistaken when she claims that in El Salvador women are imprisoned and harassed for induced abortions.”
“But even worse,” he continued, Smith is wrong in stating “that those who have suffered a miscarriage are also prosecuted and imprisoned by an infamous law.”
Abortion in El Salvador is completely prohibited, and the country’s constitution recognizes “every human being as a human person from the moment of conception.”
The Penal Code of El Salvador establishes a prison sentences from 2 to 8 years for anyone who undergoes or performs an abortion in the country.
Kate Smith assumed the management position at Planned Parenthood in April after working for more than three years at CBS News.
The job change came two years after a National Review article called Kate Smith the “CBS News Ambassador for Planned Parenthood.”
In a recent interview with CNN, Smith referred to a documentary she made for CBS News in 2020 about El Salvador to predict what the United States would look like if Roe v. Wade were overturned, which a draft majority opinion leaked weeks ago suggests will happen.
Planned Parenthood’s director of news content said last Friday that “when we went to El Salvador, what we saw is that all those things that these doctors and politicians had warned us about were happening in real time on the ground.”
In her report for CBS News, Smith said that since 1998 more than 140 women have been accused of having abortions and ended up in prison with sentences of up to 35 years.
“They wake up and they’re shackled to the hospital bed and there was a police officer there investigating them,” she said.
“Doctors told me when they are looking at a patient, there is no way for them to tell the difference between an induced abortion and a spontaneous miscarriage,” Smith reported.
For the new Planned Parenthood director, “all of these things that we say might happen if abortion gets banned, if abortion becomes illegal, they do happen.”
However, for Fortín-Magaña “the only logical explanation” for what Smith says “is that what she said is a lie for the propaganda purposes of the organization she works for today.”
“As former director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and as a doctor, I can assure you that the foregoing is totally false,” he said, pointing out that as short as the sentences are that are given in abortion cases, “it can be for community service instead; and therefore there’s not a single case of women imprisoned for that reason.”
The Institute of Forensic Medicine is an organ of the Salvadoran judicial system that, as the doctor explains on his website, “contributes technically and scientifically to the administration of justice.”
The psychiatrist stressed that these are “different” cases than those of women who “committed aggravated homicide” and “murdered their child, once it had been born by the natural process.”
The crimes in question, he pointed out, were committed “by suffocation, strangulation, striking with a rock, drowning, or simply abandonment.”
Fortín-Magaña lamented that “El Salvador is a country full of problems and violence, where the law is often applied unfairly, especially in favor of groups with political power.”
“But it would be absolutely unfair to say that what Ms. Smith says is true, because it’s not,” the medical expert said.
“She’s promoting an industry that exploits women”
For Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Yes to Life Foundation in El Salvador, “it’s not surprising that a pro-abortion activist lies to try to convince you that she’s defending women when in reality she is promoting an industry that exploits pregnant women in dire straits that need support, not violence and death.”
The Salvadoran pro-life leader stressed that in reality “in El Salvador there’s not a single woman imprisoned for induced abortion, because women found guilty are sentenced to community service.”
“The women she says are supposedly imprisoned for ‘miscarriages’ and ‘obstetrical problems’ were actually convicted of aggravated homicide of their newborn babies,” de Cardenal said.
“Forensic evidence shows that the full term babies were strangled, stabbed, struck with a rock, had their necks broken, suffocated in septic tanks or inside plastic bags, etc. None of these cases have to do with abortions much less miscarriages. They were infanticides,” she stated.
The Yes to Life Foundation president pointed out that “these women are being released because they were pardoned, not for lack of evidence” and that “maternal mortality has been drastically reduced in El Salvador since the legislation in El Salvador was changed in favor of life.”
“Saying that Salvadoran ‘doctors’ told her that patients died because they couldn’t get an abortion is the same argument used by abortion promoters around the world,” she said.
Sara Larín, founder of the Life El Salvador platform, said that “Smith is blatantly lying” when she “asserts that there are 140 Salvadoran women accused of abortion.”
“According to official statistics from the Office of Access to Public Information of the Attorney General’s Office, from 2013 to date there are no women serving jail time for the crime of abortion.”
“This is so because the penalties for abortion are minor and community service can be performed instead,” she said.
“Smith is actually talking about 140 women sentenced to 30 years in prison because it’s the minimum sentence given for crimes of aggravated homicide,” she said.
Larín noted the case of “María de los Ángeles Portillo, who murdered her daughter by suffocating her with a sock; or the recent case of Evelyn Sánchez, who stabbed her newborn baby in the chest.”
Larín said that “a serious journalist would ask to read all the evidence for the sentences and would find that none of these cases were miscarriages. However, Smith confined herself to speaking for pro-abortion organizations in El Salvador that receive funding from Planned Parenthood.”
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