Nicaragua's Abortion Ban Is Endangering Women's Lives

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Since July 2008, abortion in all circumstances has been banned in Nicaragua. The new law makes no exceptions for terminating pregnancies that endanger the health or life of the woman, or that result from rape or incest. Girls or women seeking or obtaining abortions are subject to imprisonment. Health care professionals providing abortions — or even unintentionally injuring a fetus — face jail time and being barred from practice.

A new Amnesty International report, The Total Abortion Ban in Nicaragua, details the effects of the new measures. Medical professionals are put in an impossible situation: they’re prevented, on pain of criminal prosecution, from providing essential medical services — in direct contradiction of best-practice guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Women who need abortions to preserve their health — or lives — have to find doctors willing to risk prosecution and suspension of their license, or seek out dangerous back-alley terminations.

The ban has a chilling effect, too, on women suffering obstetric complications: one woman admitted to a hospital following a miscarriage was so frightened that she would be charged with having an abortion that she asked doctors not to intervene. The rate of maternal deaths in Nicaragua has increased: Official figures show that 33 girls and women have died in pregnancy or childbirth so far this year, up from 20 in the same period a year ago.

Finally, girls and women who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence must either carry the pregnancy to term, or look for risky, clandestine abortions. Our researchers spoke with women, raped by relatives, who were forced to give birth — sometimes to their own brothers or sisters. In every case, it’s low-income women who are hit hardest — richer Nicaraguans are able to travel abroad to escape the ban.

Now, all of this was shockingly, appallingly predictable — but the full litany of violations makes terrible reading. That the Nicaraguan health minister is dismissing the report just shows how hard human rights supporters will have to push to overturn the ban.

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Read the whole report (or the digest), o en Español (digest).

Lilli Evans contributed to this post.

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28 thoughts on “Nicaragua's Abortion Ban Is Endangering Women's Lives

  1. Well considering abortion in the U.S. kills almost 1.5 million babies a year… your number of Nicaraguan women (33 so far this year) though very sad and tragic…fails in comparison. Not a drop in the bucket compared to the sad and tragic deaths of 1.5 million completely and totally defenseless babies torn from the mother's womb.

    There is nothing more inhumane then ripping a living baby / fetus from his / her mother's womb… especially when it boils down to the baby being an inconvience and/or a choice.

    You suggest the abortion ban is to blame for the 33 women who died in childbirth. Is there any evidence to suggest those 33 women wanted abortions? How many babies do you think are saved?

    The women's health and cases of rape/incest… I'm torn. Whose life is more important? The woman or the baby living inside her womb? Having said that… I am torn and recognize at times that the woman's health could also effect the yet to be born baby. Difficult situation for sure.

    When in comes to babies concieved by healthy women having consensual sex… well rolling the dice was the "choice".

  2. Well considering abortion in the U.S. kills almost 1.5 million babies a year… your number of Nicaraguan women (33 so far this year) though very sad and tragic…fails in comparison. Not a drop in the bucket compared to the sad and tragic deaths of 1.5 million completely and totally defenseless babies torn from the mother’s womb.

    There is nothing more inhumane then ripping a living baby / fetus from his / her mother’s womb… especially when it boils down to the baby being an inconvience and/or a choice.

    You suggest the abortion ban is to blame for the 33 women who died in childbirth. Is there any evidence to suggest those 33 women wanted abortions? How many babies do you think are saved?

    The women’s health and cases of rape/incest… I’m torn. Whose life is more important? The woman or the baby living inside her womb? Having said that… I am torn and recognize at times that the woman’s health could also effect the yet to be born baby. Difficult situation for sure.

    When in comes to babies concieved by healthy women having consensual sex… well rolling the dice was the “choice”.

  3. The need of abortion to save the life of the mother is practically non-existent. In all other cases, what could justify killing a baby ?!

    Abortion hurts every member of society ! It devalues human life ! Look at the Declaration of Independence of the USA – "We hold these truths to be self-evident. We are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights … the right to life …" ! Human life is sacred because it comes from God ! No one has the right to take an innocent life !

    Even if some people still do not realize the evil of abortion and how it is destroying all of us, I hope all will see that abortion is not health care ! We must not be forced to pay for abortion with our tax dollars, here in the U. S. or abroad !

    Most Sincerely,
    David Zarri

  4. The need of abortion to save the life of the mother is practically non-existent. In all other cases, what could justify killing a baby ?!

    Abortion hurts every member of society ! It devalues human life ! Look at the Declaration of Independence of the USA – “We hold these truths to be self-evident. We are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights … the right to life …” ! Human life is sacred because it comes from God ! No one has the right to take an innocent life !

    Even if some people still do not realize the evil of abortion and how it is destroying all of us, I hope all will see that abortion is not health care ! We must not be forced to pay for abortion with our tax dollars, here in the U. S. or abroad !

    Most Sincerely,
    David Zarri

  5. Just what I suspected…"CRICKETS"…

    "Human Rights" for all except the silent, defenseless, innocent and by far the most vulnerable of all human beings on earth. The Unborn.

    Shameful.

  6. Just what I suspected…”CRICKETS”…

    “Human Rights” for all except the silent, defenseless, innocent and by far the most vulnerable of all human beings on earth. The Unborn.

    Shameful.

  7. What's Daniel Ortega come to ? Is this any situation for struggling women to survive through in a severely impoverished land ? How will they ever begin to take control over their lives in such conditions ?

    i'm talking to those who're talking about Nicaragua, not a bunch of foreign , gringo locos frothing off their mouths about their own IDEAS of how the whole world OUGHT to be run by themselves. The people who talk of being prolife tut tut over the deaths of pregnant women & secretly gloat over the murders of doctors who stand up & provide women with the abortions they have DECIDED FOR THEMSELVES.

    And if you follow the political trail of these foreign locos, it will lead you right up to the gringo Right & its support for the contra killers who waged a war of murder in this same Nicaragua — another high watermark of their prolife ideals, no doubt.

    For verily it seemeth that the sanctity of life burns in its purest & most abstract & Absolute flame upon the altar of fanatics & the sponsors of assassins, far above the actual lives of the natural & the common, the wretched of the Earth.

  8. What’s Daniel Ortega come to ? Is this any situation for struggling women to survive through in a severely impoverished land ? How will they ever begin to take control over their lives in such conditions ?

    i’m talking to those who’re talking about Nicaragua, not a bunch of foreign , gringo locos frothing off their mouths about their own IDEAS of how the whole world OUGHT to be run by themselves. The people who talk of being prolife tut tut over the deaths of pregnant women & secretly gloat over the murders of doctors who stand up & provide women with the abortions they have DECIDED FOR THEMSELVES.

    And if you follow the political trail of these foreign locos, it will lead you right up to the gringo Right & its support for the contra killers who waged a war of murder in this same Nicaragua — another high watermark of their prolife ideals, no doubt.

    For verily it seemeth that the sanctity of life burns in its purest & most abstract & Absolute flame upon the altar of fanatics & the sponsors of assassins, far above the actual lives of the natural & the common, the wretched of the Earth.

  9. aha

    Silence your critics by blocking "Pro-Life" from commenting. I changed my name and now can post again.

    Very "Daniel Ortega" – NO Very "Hugo Chavez" of you.

    So… No one at A.I. and particularly Mr. Art Savage wants to answer the question:

    Human Rights for the Unborn yes or no?

    Avoid the question and change subject to abortion doctors murder (no I don't gloat about the murder of a 67 year old Dr. Tiller). I'm thankful that his murderer will face trial and face the consequencing of committing murder. The 67 year old being murdered was almost as sad and tragic as the taking of an unborn baby life.

    I don't "tut-tut" pregnant women's deaths. I simply challenged the writer and asked what is the connection of the 33 women who died during pregnancy or childbirth with abortion? There isn't one. I also put the tragedy of 33 women's death into perspective. 1.5 MILLION abortions annually in the U.S. alone.

    Also the assumption that a proud defender of life has anything to do with contra killers is just another attempt for you to avoid saying the following:

    You do not care about the silent, defenseless, innocent and by far the most vulnerable of all human beings on earth. Human Rights for all except the unborn. After all… once born they are such a burden. SHAMEFUL.

  10. aha

    Silence your critics by blocking “Pro-Life” from commenting. I changed my name and now can post again.

    Very “Daniel Ortega” – NO Very “Hugo Chavez” of you.

    So… No one at A.I. and particularly Mr. Art Savage wants to answer the question:

    Human Rights for the Unborn yes or no?

    Avoid the question and change subject to abortion doctors murder (no I don’t gloat about the murder of a 67 year old Dr. Tiller). I’m thankful that his murderer will face trial and face the consequencing of committing murder. The 67 year old being murdered was almost as sad and tragic as the taking of an unborn baby life.

    I don’t “tut-tut” pregnant women’s deaths. I simply challenged the writer and asked what is the connection of the 33 women who died during pregnancy or childbirth with abortion? There isn’t one. I also put the tragedy of 33 women’s death into perspective. 1.5 MILLION abortions annually in the U.S. alone.

    Also the assumption that a proud defender of life has anything to do with contra killers is just another attempt for you to avoid saying the following:

    You do not care about the silent, defenseless, innocent and by far the most vulnerable of all human beings on earth. Human Rights for all except the unborn. After all… once born they are such a burden. SHAMEFUL.

  11. I don't believe in abortion. I don't know anyone who does. But I do believe that a woman should be the one to decide about this issue, not the church(es) or the State. The churches should participate in such decisions on request from the woman and with a pastoral concern. Having said that, and living in Nicaragua, I need to make one more observation. The Sandinista government agreed to join the other parties in this very traditionally Catholic country in passing this law in order to gain the support of the Cardinal Archbishop Obando y Bravo and the Catholic masses. At the same time, the new law is not being enforced. No one has been arrested or indicted under the new law and the "word on the street" is that no one will. Some therapeutic abortions are being performed.

  12. I don’t believe in abortion. I don’t know anyone who does. But I do believe that a woman should be the one to decide about this issue, not the church(es) or the State. The churches should participate in such decisions on request from the woman and with a pastoral concern. Having said that, and living in Nicaragua, I need to make one more observation. The Sandinista government agreed to join the other parties in this very traditionally Catholic country in passing this law in order to gain the support of the Cardinal Archbishop Obando y Bravo and the Catholic masses. At the same time, the new law is not being enforced. No one has been arrested or indicted under the new law and the “word on the street” is that no one will. Some therapeutic abortions are being performed.

  13. Thank you Reverand.

    I don't believe in murder either, but I don't think it should be left for a man or woman to decide and yes it is up to the State to enforce the law against murder.

    It all boils down to whether unborn babies are human beings or not. And whether a group like Amnesty International choses to fight for the most vunerable and defenseless among us (the unborn) … or prefer to side with a woman's right to choose whether to abort a living being from the womb or to choose life.

    They'll go nuts if a member of al qaeda/ radical jihadist terrorist / responsible for the beheading of a journalist and the deaths of thousands is exposed to enhanced interrogation techniques, but when it comes to an innocent, defenseless and silent human being that is purposely ripped from the mother's womb and subsequently killed…not a peep. It is better to protect a woman's right to choose huh?

    Shameful.

    Being a man of God

  14. My message was cut short…

    Being a man of God I respect your views, but I'm confused as to your lack of desire to protect the unborn.

  15. Thank you Reverand.

    I don’t believe in murder either, but I don’t think it should be left for a man or woman to decide and yes it is up to the State to enforce the law against murder.

    It all boils down to whether unborn babies are human beings or not. And whether a group like Amnesty International choses to fight for the most vunerable and defenseless among us (the unborn) … or prefer to side with a woman’s right to choose whether to abort a living being from the womb or to choose life.

    They’ll go nuts if a member of al qaeda/ radical jihadist terrorist / responsible for the beheading of a journalist and the deaths of thousands is exposed to enhanced interrogation techniques, but when it comes to an innocent, defenseless and silent human being that is purposely ripped from the mother’s womb and subsequently killed…not a peep. It is better to protect a woman’s right to choose huh?

    Shameful.

    Being a man of God

  16. My message was cut short…

    Being a man of God I respect your views, but I’m confused as to your lack of desire to protect the unborn.

  17. To respond to your question: we will need to get into a long and insoluble debate about exactly when a fertilized egg becomes a human being. I imagine that your opinion is that at conception. But there are many, including the Old Testament, that don't recognize human life until a breath is taken–or, at birth. I don't take it to that point, but believe that until it is a viable being, it shouldn't be considered a human being. If you accept the moment of conception, then you will have to have a careful examination of menstrual pads to locate the approximately 50% of fertilized eggs that do not manage to adhere to the wall of the uterus and are thus flushed out with the menstrual flow–so you can have proper funerals for them all. Obviously an absurd suggestion. But it illustrates the problem in trying to define the indefinable. In the meantime, we have the very real problem of a woman (women) who find themselves pregnant in an unsustainable fashion: raped, even by a relative, or, simply pregnant against their will because their partner won't use contraception, or pregnant by accident, etc., etc., etc., and in conditions in which the child to be brought into the world will be condemned to a sub-human existence of mal-nutrition, no schooling, slave labor, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes a woman can feel (and rightly so) that an abortion is the "least worst" option facing her. She should not be criminalized for this.

  18. To respond to your question: we will need to get into a long and insoluble debate about exactly when a fertilized egg becomes a human being. I imagine that your opinion is that at conception. But there are many, including the Old Testament, that don’t recognize human life until a breath is taken–or, at birth. I don’t take it to that point, but believe that until it is a viable being, it shouldn’t be considered a human being. If you accept the moment of conception, then you will have to have a careful examination of menstrual pads to locate the approximately 50% of fertilized eggs that do not manage to adhere to the wall of the uterus and are thus flushed out with the menstrual flow–so you can have proper funerals for them all. Obviously an absurd suggestion. But it illustrates the problem in trying to define the indefinable. In the meantime, we have the very real problem of a woman (women) who find themselves pregnant in an unsustainable fashion: raped, even by a relative, or, simply pregnant against their will because their partner won’t use contraception, or pregnant by accident, etc., etc., etc., and in conditions in which the child to be brought into the world will be condemned to a sub-human existence of mal-nutrition, no schooling, slave labor, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes a woman can feel (and rightly so) that an abortion is the “least worst” option facing her. She should not be criminalized for this.

  19. an abortion dr is a hitman.. a women should have the right to chose who the adoption parents are .. not serve a death sentence to the life she created through the grace of God.. children are a gift .. innocent & pure..
    don't get scentific or biblical.. finish what was started.. take responsibility for your actions.. i really hope every one will learn the tim tebow story.. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/27/crossroad

  20. an abortion dr is a hitman.. a women should have the right to chose who the adoption parents are .. not serve a death sentence to the life she created through the grace of God.. children are a gift .. innocent & pure..
    don't get scentific or biblical.. finish what was started.. take responsibility for your actions.. i really hope every one will learn the tim tebow story.. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/27/crossroad

  21. an abortion dr is a hitman.. a women should have the right to chose who the adoption parents are .. not serve a death sentence to the life she created through the grace of God.. children are a gift .. innocent & pure..
    don't get scentific or biblical.. finish what was started.. take responsibility for your actions.. i really hope every one will learn the tim tebow story.. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/27/crossroad

  22. an abortion dr is a hitman.. a women should have the right to chose who the adoption parents are .. not serve a death sentence to the life she created through the grace of God.. children are a gift .. innocent & pure..
    don’t get scentific or biblical.. finish what was started.. take responsibility for your actions.. i really hope every one will learn the tim tebow story..
    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/27/crossroads/entry6146969.shtml