Cristina’s World: Lessons from El Salvador’s Ban on Abortion

39 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2013

See all articles by Michelle Oberman

Michelle Oberman

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2013


This Article provides a detailed examination of abortion as it is regulated under a legal regime that criminalizes its practice under all circumstances, including when a woman’s life is at risk. Among the five nations that ban abortion under all circumstances, El Salvador is perhaps the most aggressive in its enforcement of the law. Over the past several years, I have been researching abortion-related prosecutions in El Salvador, interviewing convicted women, defense lawyers, judges, doctors, nurses and activists. This Article takes an ethnographic approach to the study of abortion law enforcement in El Salvador, investigating in detail a single abortion-related prosecution and conviction. Cristina Quintanilla’s case embodies a number of consistent challenges that arise in prosecution of abortion as a crime. The Article does not argue for or against the legal regulation of abortion. Instead, it highlights facts that complicate the enforcement of abortion-related crimes.

Suggested Citation

Oberman, Michelle, Cristina’s World: Lessons from El Salvador’s Ban on Abortion (August 1, 2013). Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 24, 2013, Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-13, Available at SSRN:

Michelle Oberman (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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