Mothers Of

Nominated for

Best Short Documentary

Directed by

Ross Lai

21' • Canada • 2019

El Salvador has some of the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the world. It is one of a handful of countries in the world where abortion is banned under all circumstances, including cases of rape and when a pregnancy poses a clinically verifiable risk to a woman’s health. As an extreme consequence of the law, women who have naturally occurring obstetric emergencies are routinely imprisoned on homicide charges. When they seek emergency care after miscarriages or stillbirths, doctors report them to the police on the suspicion of having an abortion. Between 2000 and 2011, 129 women in El Salvador were prosecuted for abortion or homicide when the fetal deaths occurred in the last months of pregnancy. 'Mothers of' explores the hyper-strict abortion regulations in El Salvador through the story of Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, a woman forced to serve over 10 years in jail after suffering a stillbirth in her 9th month of pregnancy. Through Teodora’s perspective, we begin to understand how loss and motherhood are felt in the face of bitter social injustice.